Thursday, February 7, 2013

Paperwork Challenge: Progress!

I have decided that February will be the month I get caught up on my paperwork and get it sorted for the upcoming year. All about that here.

This first week was a huge challenge!

When I made up the challenge and set my goals, there was a sleepy, incoherent voice in the back of me head saying, "What about the big shop?" I ignored it until Sunday when it woke up and shouted at me: "The shop is Tuesday! Get 'er done!"

 It took a chunk of time on Sunday and practically the entire day on Monday.  Then, on Tuesday, I spent an hour or two finalising everything before I shopped (about 2 hours) and put everything away (about an hour, I eat lunch and putz.) Then, on Wednesday, it took about an hour to portion and wrap the meat for freezing. I do this every month and every month I forget how time consuming it is.

Anyway, during the planning stage, I moved the dining room table to form an "ell" with the computer desk.  I loved it!

Ok. As for what I did with respect to my actual paperwork challenge.

My goals for this week were:

1) Work on budget 15 min/day.
2) Follow through on steps for streamlining paperwork.
3) Deal with my e-mail for 10 minutes/day. Record the number of messages left in my inbox at the end of each day to track my progress.
4) Chip away at the avalanche, 10 minutes/day.
5) Choose a container for the papers and files related to our taxes.


1) Work on budget 15 min/day.

I left the desk in the "ell" arrangement on Tuesday and Wednesday to work on the budget since I use the computer for that, too.
I spent 18 minutes on it on Friday (last week) and more than 30 minutes a few days later on Sunday. I found it confusing to try and remember where I had left off and what needed to be done--even though I left myself detailed notes and "to do" lists. On Wednesday, I bit into it and didn't look up for more than an hour until I felt done. As a result, I'm technically caught up.
The budget is not something I can work on in 15 minute segments. This is a great way to start a project--promising yourself that's all you need to do, but I really am a creature of my old grad school habits: once I sink my teeth into something, it's the only thing I do. Using the timer, this project took me a little over two hours. (In real time, it's more, since I'd stop the timer to answer the phone or put the kettle on for tea.) Next time, I'll just schedule a couple of afternoons. That will work well for such a complex and complicated project.
2) Follow through on steps for streamlining paperwork.

I only worked on this a couple of times. On Monday, we went to the bank, and among other things, I signed up for e-statements and cancelled receiving a paper statement. I print off a list of transactions from the chequing account every week anyway (when I'm caught up on the budget!) and only referred to the paper statements a couple of times this year. Still, it's going to feel weird not having that paper from now on!

I managed to add our phone numbers to the Do Not Call List and our address to the Canadian Marketing Association do not contact registry.

Here is the CRTC National Do Not Call List registration page. Remember to register your cell phones, too. It can take up to 31 days to take effect.

To stop addressed junk mail, you need to register with the Canadian Marketing Association. Here's the home page. "Do Not Contact" is at the bottom under the heading "Consumers." It's a good idea to register everyone who receives mail! It takes up to six weeks to take effect and is good for three years.

We'll see how useful this is. I photographed the mail as it came every day this week. (We only have delivery Monday through Friday and there wasn't any on Tuesday.)

1. Tax Document
     Bank Statement (x)
     Addressed charity solicitation
2. Bill
    Unaddressed real estate ad mail. (This was interesting though. A renovated home in our area is being sold for $849,000. Unbelievable. Makes me wonder if renovating our house might be worth it after all!)
3. Addressed car dealership ad mail (x)
4. Addressed magazine
    Unaddressed Ikea Flyer
    Unaddressed coupon flyers from local businesses (2)
    Unaddressed Municipal Notice on proposed bike trails in our neighbourhood
    Monthly investment statements (2)
The steps I took this week will rid me of those things I x'ed. That's all.
3) Deal with my e-mail for 10 minutes/day.
Record the number of messages left in my inbox at the end of each day to track my progress.
I only worked at this for 3 days and for no more than 10 minutes each time. This is so mind boggling, I'm better at dealing with it in even smaller chunks. I started with 147 e-mails in my inbox and I'm now down to 27. I have to open almost every one of these, now, though, to figure out what I need to keep. They're from the Girl guides and Scouts, mostly.
 4) Chip away at the avalanche, 10 minutes/day.
I only worked on this on Saturday for 20 minutes, before I started planning my menus.
5) Choose a container for the papers and files related to our taxes.
done! Meet Mathew (the tax collector, ha ha)
He lives here, for now:
So, for this next week:
Continue to:
1) Follow through on steps for streamlining paperwork.
2) Deal with my e-mail for 10 minutes/day. Record the number of messages left in my inbox at the end of each day to track my progress.
3) Chip away at the avalanche, 15 minutes/day.
And, I'm adding two more projects from Tsh Oxenreider's little e-book, One Bite at a Time.
4) Read Project #9 Streamline Your Receipt System and tweak my receipt system (if necessary).
5) Read and review Project #17 Create an Essentials Papers file and update my "Black Book."
Hope you had a productive week.
Linking to the William Moriss Project with Jules (and the rest of the gang) at Pancakes and French Fries.


onshore said...

Well done Alana, you are very inspirational. I still have to go through all my papers from the previous year. Luckily I don't have that much of paper.
I have never understood, why I would need to empty my inbox. But if it feels good for you then why not.

Rita@thissortaoldlife said...

Wow, it makes me tired just to read this. I so hate paperwork.

I'm in total agreement about not trying to do a complex task in small chunks. Anything that requires brain immersion is something I have to set aside a substantial amount of time for....which would be why I hate paperwork. :-)

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