Helpful Solutions when Drowning in Paperwork

Living Creatively with Fibro | Midweek Minimise Drowning in Paperwork

Welcome back to the the household organisation series and for those of you waiting for this drowning in paperwork post my apologies for delaying it twice! As I previously explained as a spoonie, I only have so much energy available, and sometimes other needs become more pressing. As was the case last week when I had to organise the storage of the new Kitchen Gadgetry.

I am sure I can not be the only blogger who uses their blog to motivate me to get things done. I guess it is because you are making yourself accountable to other people. It is true that I would not have made the progress I did in the last quarter of 2017 if I was not needing to do it to write about it! If you have tried and failed to get your possessions under control and you do not have a blog to motivate you perhaps you should find an accountability buddy on social media, or let me be that person. Nagging is not something Michael has ever accused me of, but I’m sure I would give it a good go if requested  🙂

The starting point

First, I have to say that I do have systems in place for paperwork. I have a tray system the trays from top to bottom are labelled: In, Michael, Susan, Pending, Future Projects, Filing. The theory is that the in-tray and the filing tray would be emptied once per week. The tray’s with our names on are for projects we are currently working on and want to keep to hand, and the other two are self-apparent. This system worked quite well for a month or so then for some reason, possibly a flare-up things slipped, and I stopped emptying the top and bottom tray each week. There is every possibility that the date I last cleared this was in 2016! So here is what I am faced with now.

Sorting Trays

When systems go wrong

A possible reason for the system collapsing was that I decided to try and go paperless. I had been subscribed to Abby’s blog Just a Girl and Her Blog for some time, and when her husband Donnie published the Ultimate Guide to Going Paperless it was the perfect timing. I already had my Premium Evernote, and in theory, I was all set given that I tend to prefer digital solutions at the best of times. The problem was, although Donnie recommended getting a decent scanner I did not have the funds to invest in this and my scanner is a flatbed one which is part of my all in one printer. Don’t get me wrong there is absolutely nothing wrong with this scanner but if you want to scan the majority of paper that comes into your house (including double-sided) it is a very slow process. So basically, I stopped doing it.

Resolving the problem

Funnily enough, I had the solution all along I just hadn’t realised it, the Evernote App on my phone! I had used this quite regularly to look through the contents of my database but hadn’t felt the need to upload new items to it using the phone even though I was aware that I could. One day reasonably recently I wanted to get a vital document added to Evernote, and the printer had a bit of a pile of things on top of it that I didn’t want to disturb. I thought I would try the app and edit the document on my computer but once I used the Evernote App camera (rather than the standard camera) and I set it to document rather than image the application crops the document to the edges of the paper for you. If it is double sided, you just need to flip the paper over and take another photo.

I have to say that this process is even quicker than using the scanner. To get the best results, I suggest you take a few moments to prepare the area you are going to use. I decided my craft desk was the best position, but there was a problem with the glare coming off the glass craft mat from the light above. To resolve this, I put down a couple of A4 sheets of black cardstock which I already had due to being a crafter (Linda’s Black Card in case you’re curious). I found that the camera focused and took much faster, better quality photos this way. Here is my scanning set up:

Scanning Area

Benefits of going digital

Organising Documents

Filing Cabinets are useful, and you can get suspension pockets with tabs to organise them, however, unless you photocopy the documents they can only go in one drawer. If you have digital copies in a database like Evernote, you can use tags as well as folders. For instance, this is how I would organise standard documents: Filename (date sent)(Senders name)(purpose) For example: Letters 2018-1-15 Create & Craft Welcome the Craft Club Statement 2017-12-15 Barclays Bank Statement I could just leave it at that; if they had been in a traditional Filing Cabinet, I might have had them in folders called Create and Craft and Barclays Bank or in a great big folder called documents depending on how organised I want to be. By having a title but also adding tags, I can sort in different ways. So the statement could have a tag called statement then I can ask to see all the statement tags, and I will see the Barclays one but also ones from any other account I have.

If you use Gmail and you are confident with the tags you are already halfway there. If you have everything in the inbox, you are missing a treat, and I wish I could sit next to you for 30 minutes and change your life for the better! So to use the two examples above the top one would have the tags {letters} and {Create and Craft} and the other would have the tags {statements} and {Barclays} As well as using tags and filing things so you can easily find them you can integrate them with a calendar so if you receive bills rather than paying stuff by direct debit you can, not only, tag them {bills} but also add them to the date you wish to pay them and receive a reminder. Of course, nobody ever wants to think about this but what if there was a fire and you had a paper system it would all be lost. With Evernote, it is safe in the cloud. Spoonie Tip If Fibro Fog is a problem let the calendar do the work for you and you can even share folders with someone you trust to make sure the information they need is available to them.

Keeping Memories

How often do we end up retaining things we don’t like to get rid of like greetings cards or in the case of parents children’s artwork. I confess I still had a box of cards I got for my 18th & 21st birthdays, but I have never opened it and looked at them since they went in there. I have set up a folder on Evernote called Cards Received and Scanned them (the front and the greeting page) into it. The next plan is to scan the wedding card and share the folder with Michael because once again we haven’t looked at them since we took them down a few weeks after the wedding. We didn’t want to part with them but the big box is taking up lots of space we could use, and there is far more chance that we would flick through the gallery on the computer on our Anniversary than get the box out.

 Purging Old Information

As we all know, things get old, but some things need to be kept longer than others. let me use the example of my old employer who I left in September. I have received documents from them that I still need or want to retain like Tax information but other things like training information or ideas I researched and jotted down about doing my job are now obsolete so I can look through the tag for the company and say I want to see all documents that don’t have the tag {Tax} then glance through and see if there are any other tags that need keeping and remove this tag too then when happy just hit delete. Believe me, this takes a fraction of the time of going through a filing cabinet folder.

Blog Drowning in paperwork

What I learnt from drowning in paperwork

The first thing that hit me when I started working on the pile of paperwork was that an awful lot of it didn’t need to be kept. I certainly don’t want to replace drowning in paper with being swamped by digital files either so giving myself space to think things through I concluded that my new routine would be: To open all paperwork that enters the house then make the decision and take the appropriate steps. Is it undoubtedly important? Photo it and add it to Evernote with the appropriate labels and tags. Is it something I may need? Add it to the in-tray then go through this at the end of the month and see if I still think it needs keeping. Is it junk mail? Either shred or drop it in the recycling bin straight away.

Why this system will work for me

I have spent time researching organisation methods and watching YouTubers; you may remember that I previously mentioned watching Clutterbug’s channel and her Organization series. In the process of doing this, I have come to some conclusions, and as usual, they add up to me being contrary. Let’s put aside the Fibromyalgia for a moment, don’t I wish I literally could… On the one hand, I enjoy being organised and knowing where everything is but, on the other hand, I can sometimes be a little bit lazy in the sense of not wanting to commit to much time to getting organised. I’d instead use the energy I have to do something I enjoy doing.  I thought I enjoyed micro organising but maybe not to the nano degree. With this new system, I can make sure the critical stuff it safely where it needs to be but I can defer decisions and speedily deposit all the maybe’s into one tray. So if I need something that isn’t in Evernote, it is going to be on that tray making me both organised but saving me time on a day to day basis. At the end of the month, there is a good chance I won’t have given all those maybe’s a second thought and I can quickly dispose of them! If I can crack it so can you! I do recommend giving Evernote a try I’ve been using it since 2009 and had a paid subscription for about three years. If you use my link, you will get a month of premium for free, so there is nothing to loose in trying.

If you need to get your paperwork in order like I did I’d love to hear how you get along. Have you tried Evernote and if so is it making your life easier? Do drop me a comment below or join in on any of the social media channels.

Until next time,
Gentle Hugs,

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