From Pipi’s Pasture: A paper dilemma
The tax season is here so for this week, at least, that means going through all of the paperwork that I’ve been collecting all year. I’m afraid that I put off tax stuff way too long, and once I get to it the task it doesn’t take too long—if I can find all of the receipts and bank statements. Usually one piece of paperwork is missing. All of this has me thinking about the way I handle all kinds of paperwork, not just that which is tax-related.
It’s all about organization. Even in a computer world, most of us handle an incredible amount of paperwork. For me, there’s mail to sort (much of it that ends in the trash), bills to pay, maintenance books and warranty papers for appliances and electronics, newspapers and magazines to sort through and discard, recipes to put away after use, and a lot more.
Although I have an outdoor office cottage, I work from the house in the winter so all kinds of papers pile up on the dining room table. Bills and correspondence accumulate as I prioritize work to be finished. So do receipts that need to be filed and, of course, work-related papers. The pile gets shuffled around, and if somebody comes for coffee, the pile is moved somewhere else. When I do get to sorting I have to pay close attention not to accidentally put important papers in the “ discard pile” instead of the “to file” pile. And then, remembering where I put papers is another problem.
Consider the following situations that are all too common in my life where paperwork is considered.
I’m ready to make the family’s favorite popcorn balls for Christmas. When I look through my recipe file, the recipe written on a card isn’t there. I take out all of the cards and go through them one at a time. It’s missing. I do have an organizational plan for my recipes. Those on cards go into the file box. Others are placed in plastic sleeves that are labeled. The problem is that I have a habit of slipping recipes into cookbooks, a drawer, or between cookbooks on the kitchen counter when I finish cooking. Don’t ask me why.
So, I finally find the recipe in a soup cookbook. What a place to store a popcorn ball recipe! In the time I wasted looking for the recipe I could have had all of the popcorn balls made and wrapped in plastic.
In another example, I just purchased a new copy machine. When I get ready to use the fax machine I can’t find the machine’s book to guide me. Where did I store it? The same often applies to maintenance books for the heater, kitchen stove, and other appliances.
I’ve got some time to write a paper on an educational issue. I have collected reports, newspaper and magazine articles, and other carefully-documented notes to use in writing the paper. However, guess what? Now that I have the time to write the report, I can’t find the valuable paperwork. Have I thrown it away? After spending valuable time on a search, I find the file at the bottom of a pile of papers that have been set aside to go through another time.
It’s clear that I need to work on my paper dilemma.
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