A recent client, overwhelmed with too much paperwork, will help all of us get free from feeling overloaded. The senior woman I met a year ago called me and said she needed help with her filing. She was feeling stuck even though her life’s work was one of being organized; she just could not get out of the mess of papers covering all the surface areas. She had tubs and boxes too that were full of papers that needed filing. That is not too surprising since she moved into a new apartment only six months ago, contributing to the chaos and procrastination with paper. Any number of things can cause being ‘stuck’ which leads to feeling completely overwhelmed: getting unstuck - Bing
With her new housing arrangement and widowhood. she needed to review what papers she needed to keep and what file categories best suited her. With a guide sheet, we selected the categories for her files then we worked together to edit her current single file drawer and an extra file box. With a list of five file categories and the system used in the webinar at http://elisahawkinson.com/calming-office-chaos/, we tackled the project and made great progress in an hour. We had five categories in the drawer (personal, financial, lifestyle, taxes/insurance, and current/now). Using tri-cut file folders we used the left file cut and made a front to back row for PERSONAL files. There could be up to 15 files for the personal section. The center-cut file folder category was for FINANCIAL which might have another 15 files. The right-cut file folders were used for the LIFESTYLE files. Now the number of possibilities is almost endless. Another client once had two full file drawers just for the category of appraisals; she had appraisals on all her jewelry, furniture, some clothing, and art pieces. The next file row uses the center-cut file folder for the category of TAXES/INSURANCE files. This row may only have 12 files.
At the very front of the drawer, we used a center-cut file labeled NOW, CURRENT. Here she could have easy access to files like the retirement community’s activity calendar for the month, and the menu for the dining hall. She could also have any other file she would need to have quick and frequent access to an upcoming reunion or birthday celebration with details for driving or gift ideas.
We used the smaller file box for her collection of current Medical files; one file for each health category she had records for like labs or x-rays for orthopedic, heart, optical, dental, and wellness records. That gave her quick and easy access to find a specific lab report for a heart issue. Those files could be in the single drawer if it had been larger or if she had a second file drawer in the desk.
The woman said she had a habit of doing her dishes each day and she was willing to add the habit of filing each day using a calendar for each week that would help her lay out her commitments and appointments. She felt the weekly calendar** would help her stay on track and she would use a timer for each of the segments she chose whether it was 15 minutes or 60 or 90 minutes. A color pencil would be used for each segment of time.
She was delighted to receive via email a copy of the weekly planning sheet with 30-minute blocks of time. She was able to keep track of her goals and appointments and errands on one handy sheet. The option of color-coding her goals intrigued her.
PERSONAL PLANNING GUIDE
A 3-ring binder for her son, the executor of her will, had already been assembled with all the final instructions and information on sources for retirement income and social security, service preferences, a list of people to contact, financial information, estate information, and a few other personal details. She is intentionally making it as easy as possible for her son to attend to her end-of-life details. That is a beautiful example of adulting to the last breath.
If you have any questions or feel like working side-by-side on your papers and filing chaos would be helpful, please email for a complimentary conversation. No judgment is ever made. A check for $3,000 was once found while sorting through paperwork strewn across the living room floor. We might even laugh.
*Email to request a copy of the file categories
**Email to request a copy of the weekly calendar
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