28 Days To Living Organized – Day 5 – Solution Evaluation

28 days to Living Organized

Solution Evaluation

It’s now time to pick a solution!

Here are the results of our brainstorming session yesterday:

Possible Environment Changes
•Move my filing cabinet from upstairs to the kitchen
•Create a new filing cabinet/space in the kitchen
•Teach my kids how to file
•Get rid of the kids so I have more time/energy to file daily

Possible Habit Changes
•Make going upstairs to file the first thing I do after opening mail
•File paperwork every night before bed
•File every other day at bedtime 
•Move things upstairs every night without filing and put in a temporary “to be filed” basket and then schedule a once a week “filing time”
•Stop keeping paperwork/filing – trash/recycle everything – go paperless

Before I evaluate these I’m going to be upfront and tell you that my preference is to change your environment to fit your habits rather than trying to change your habits to fit your environment.  We are creatures of habit.  We like our routines.  Even if we don’t like them, we continue to do them day in and day out because they are, well, habits.  And we’ve all heard the adage that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.  I don’t know about you but I am inpatient.  I want change NOW.  I don’t want to wait 21 days to see a difference.  And I certainly don’t want to work so hard for 3 weeks.  So, while not always possible, my preference is to change the space.

With that said, here is my evaluation of the options:
•Move my filing cabinet from upstairs to the kitchen
Not going to happen.  Logistically, we just don’t have space for it.  And the kids would have a field day with a cabnet full of paperwork.

•Create a new filing cabinet/space in the kitchen
THE WINNER!  Instead of filing everything by company/topic we will create one folder for each month.  After throwing away all the junk mail and putting the bills to be paid in my “BILLS” folder on the fridge (I’ll show you that later) I’ll put anything that needs filing in that folder.  At the end of the month, the folder will be brought upstairs to the filing cabinet and replaced with a new one for the next month.
The one possible downfall is that if I need something from Company X but don’t know when it was sent it will be much harder to find.  The reality is that the frequency with which I actually need to retrieve something is about 2 times a year.  Not a big issue.

•Teach my kids how to file
While I love this idea and might do it if they were older, the fact that they can’t read makes it not practical.

•Get rid of the kids so I have more time/energy to file daily
Haha! 

•Make going upstairs to file the first thing I do after opening mail
Honestly, I would never do this.  After I open the mail the first thing I do is start dinner.  I’m not going to delay dinner so I can file – priorities, people!

•File paperwork every night before bed
This sounds like a good idea.  And this was my husband’s original first choice.  But I know us.  Usually by the time bedtime rolls around we’re both so exhausted it’s all we can do to get our teeth brushed and fall into bed.  It just wouldn’t happen.

•File every other day at bedtime
See previous.

•Stop keeping paperwork/filing – trash/recycle everything – go paperless
This isn’t a bad idea for some items.  But there are somethings you just need to keep.  Like tax documents and mortgage paperwork and medical records.  So it’s a good add-on it’s not a full solution.

•Move things upstairs every night without filing and put in a temporary “to be filed” basket and then schedule a once a week “filing time”
2nd Choice.  This was my husband’s final vote.  Our conversation went something like this…
Me: Who will bring the stuff upstairs every night?
Darling Hubby: I will take on that responsibility
Me: Really, because usually you fall asleep before we even make it upstairs.
Darling Hubby: Yes.  I’ll do it.
Me: Who will file it away each week?
Darling Hubby: Me.
Me: Will you schedule a time to do it every week?
Darling Hubby: Yes.  I’ll do it when the kids go to bed.
Me: Really, because our lovely daughter would wake up when you go to do it?
Darling Hubby: Then I’ll do it at naptime.
Me: Um…. there’s the same issue as at bedtime.

Me: Given how often you need to look for stuff in the file cabinet (never) do you really care if things are done by month or by company?
Darling Hubby: No….. okay… we can try the monthly file
Me: And if we don’t like it, we can always change it.

As you can see, this idea initially seemed like a really good one.  But when we looked closer at the actual logistics of it, it wasn’t as easy to execute as I would like.  And it involves changing our routine and as I said before, I kind of like my routines.

The lessons for the day:

1. Don’t throw out an idea or decide on an idea on face value.  Try to think through some possible pitfalls of the idea.

2. Whenever possible, change your environment to match your habits.