I always assumed that when I found my partner in life that they would be the one to help me ‘get my act together’. I mean, my act was good – it was financially ticking over quite well and, due to many many hours in the gym, I was very happy with myself physically. I had good friends (still do!) and was pretty on track. So it may come as a surprised that I was waiting for someone else to come along to ‘fix things’, there didn’t seem much to fix.
But what I mean is that organizationally I was a mess. I had bits of paper everywhere, documents stored at several houses due to several overseas moves and really had no idea how find a piece of required paper if it was needed. Sounds like a small thing but, oh, how it did drag me down.
That’s a black hole of paper!
And this is why I am now constantly working on organizing my our life. I’m a regularly at in the library ‘homes’ section. I scour websites, blogs, workshops and even ask friends how they organize their lives. Slowly, oh so slowly, I’m getting a handle on all our paperwork. So far, the best system I’ve come up with to handle bills is to banish the dreaded filing cabinet and get everything into easily accessible binders. Yup, it’s like being in high-school.
So far, the book that has been most helpful is by Lissanne Oliver who wrote Sorted!: The ultimate guide to organising your life. It was this book that helped me get my piles of paper in an order that I can actually use. Her system is simple, took about a half day, and cost me less than $20 in materials.
First, I took all the paper lying around and put it into two piles: business or home.
Then, I took each pile and started dividing between the bills. For business, I have two binders. One for bills, invoices, correspondence from the IRD and one for receipts (which I have to keep for SEVEN years. I haven’t stayed in one spot for that long! EVER!).
For home, I have one for banking and credit cards, which looks full and therefore scary. This is because of the international flavor of our marriage, and the result is accounts in NZ, UK and Canada. The other binder is kept for utility bills.
The result is a very neat looking office:
Go on, admit you’re jealous.
I can now find, uber quickly, any bill or receipt. Very handy!
For now, my office is where it is. There’s some shelves that I have to put up (which will get rid of that small row of books underneath my desk) and that picture frame needs to go up too. I would love to do more, but that will have to wait for another day, time, and paycheck.