Thursday, April 14, 2011

A clean desk is...

certainly not a sign of a sick mind.  For me it is a sign that I have a handle on life.  One of my goals this spring has been to get the systems I use to keep our home running smoothly back to a maintenance level.  When one is pregnant or taking care of a baby (or babies), some things by necessity need to slide because people always take precedence over to do lists.  Now that G. and L. are a little older and don't need 100% of my attention (and since they have become champion sleepers), I feel that I can once again take some time to focus on other things.  A lot of jobs have piled up in the past two years, and it's taking a while to whittle them back down.  I've tried to work on them in order of importance.  My other motivation is that I know bringing home an older child can be as intensive as caring for an infant.  I really want to create some better habits in myself before we bring H. home.  Having our home under control will make it easier (both emotionally and time-wise) to really focus on her.

Laundry was first on the list.  It is something that needs to happen everyday and is also something that never ends regardless of what is going on with the family.  Except on Monday, where we are catching-up from not doing laundry on Sunday, it is back to a very manageable level of about one load a day.  And since my portion of the job takes me only about 20 minutes, it is very motivating to keep it going. 

Second on my list was my desk and the piles of paperwork that was strewn across it.  This has been an on-going problem for a while and I wish I could blame it on having twins, but really it is the result of bad habits.  It was time to take it in hand.  Two weeks ago I did a complete desk cleaning.  My paper problem seemed to be caused by two things.  The first was that I was just too lazy to put the bills and receipts in the correct place.  They had a place, but it was easier just to throw them on the pile.  The second was that there were many papers which were important, but not immediately so, and I needed to keep them, but they had no designated place.  My solution?  I bought a file folder rack with two baskets underneath and some pretty file folders that I enjoy looking at.  As I went through all the homeless papers, I created a file folder for each category and put that homeless papers in their new home.  These files are really transient homes, since after the paperwork is finally dealt with, it has a more permanent home to go to.  Some of the categories included:  papers to be filed, credit card receipts, paperwork in progress, and things to store in the children's baby boxes.  I still have some empty file folders for the times when I come across another category.  It seems to be working well.  The file folders are easily accessibly and I'm not tempted to throw it on my desk when it is just as easy to throw it in the file folder.

Having a desk cleaned of cluttering papers is also an encouragement for me to put away the papers that always had a home.  It really doesn't take that much longer.  When the desk was already messy, there was little motivation to put other things away.  But now that it is clean, I really want it to stay that way!  Mess begets mess, you know, and I find this is true for just about any area of the house.

Because my desk was nice and tidy, I was motivated yesterday (my designated desk work day), to actually do paperwork.  Boy it felt good to check-off some long-standing to-do items.  The other key to controlling the paper has been to start a home management binder.  It is really just a glorified calendar, but has quite a few additions.  It is still a work in progress and I am working out the kinks, so I will hold off on telling you about it quite yet.

As I work to get our home back under control, I can feel the stress dropping away.  There is less and less for me to worry about because less and less is out-of-control.  This is particularly true with paperwork.  I feel significantly less anxiety about losing or forgetting some important paper.


Just ignore the windowsill above the desk.  I haven't quite worked my way up there yet.  It seems to be the catch-all spot for anything that needs to be repaired and we had to move the router downstairs and I'm not pleased with its current home.

And if you're wondering what the baskets are for, I am using them to keep papers that belong to J. or that he needs to do something with.  They were also piling up on my desk.  (He does have a desk... and a whole office.  It just happens to be in a room which turned out to be uninhabitable during most of the year because of lack of insulation.  It has now become the place where we stash something we don't know what to do with.  The stuff doesn't seem to care that it's 40 degrees inside.)

2 comments:

comemorning said...

This was a really useful post--I am constantly in a quandry about what to do with papers that don't have a home, and aren't going to be used immediately. But there seem to be so many categories!I think I'll get mine out and figure out if I can find any trends/categories that make sense. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am so enjoying your posts on cleaning, organizing and tossing. It is encouraging to me. Thank you for them and the photos. Very helpful. EL

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