It’s all about the paperwork

Hello from Harmonise

I think we can all agree that 2020 hasn’t brought about the kind of changes we were hoping for, although ultimately for some – the overall change has pushed us into new territory, and will hopefully be for the good of our future.  (Not that it feels like that right now, tumbling through the uncertainty and unknown).

At Harmonise I’m still tumbling, keeping the faith that eventually I’ll be standing upright again, and perhaps taller, stronger, more resilient – learning that it’s OK to have uncertainty and be more flexible with my plans, ideas, ambition and that, YES, anything is possible.

One thing that I am quite certain about, it pays to have a clear out and organise things more simply.

This may not pay in physical money; the wealth is in having more clarity, feeling lighter, with ease of finding things and the knowledge of where to find what you have.  Although you could also find money you’d forgotten you had. J

Many people will have found that applying for any kind of grant, benefit or financial dealings, they will need certain documents to hand with ID numbers – we are made up of numbers and passwords.  In years to come, we won’t be given a name at birth; we’ll have a number similar to a registration number of our car.

To find all of these documents only adds to the stress of the forms to be completed.  This is especially true when helping elderly parents or senior’s that we care for.  In order for them to continue to live independently in their home, often requires forms, with NHS details, National Insurance details, dates and lists of various medications and reasons and how long – endless pages to complete.

I have spent the last several weeks at my Mums home, gathering paperwork from various places – bringing it altogether and putting it in order.  Now it is all in one place, one file, with room for any additional paperwork to be added.  Paperwork sorting is possibly the most time consuming of all.

This was not the only project I’ve completed where a file has been created, paperwork saved, that file perhaps was forgotten or lost and another one created, this new file will be in a different drawer.

empty files left over

Bringing it all together, I end up with enough empty files to open a stationery shop.

However the satisfaction at the end is immense and it’s not even my paperwork, however as next of kin, I am the one who will need to know of its whereabouts.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • If you have a place away from living room (eg spare room or room less used) gather all paperwork together and take to that room – if you get so far – it can be left and come back another time.  (If not, I recommend a big box to stack things in).  If you are constantly looking at it piles of papers, it can feel a bit daunting.
  • Ideally have good lighting and a large flat area (eg. a floor space or table/desk)
  • Set an alarm and begin by allocating 1 or 2 hours only – making sure you will not be interupted (have a treat planned for afterwards – perhaps a walk in countryside).
  • ‘take a section’ of the piles you have gathered (this is where you need a floor/table space) – Have 3 bins/ bags to hand – shred, recycle and waste.
  • Be prepared to go through the pile a few times – firstly scan through and take out obvious things not needed (for example pamphlets on T&C that banks, insurance and pension companies send)  they are likely out of date and can go straight to recycle.  I generally only keep what’s current but often it can be found on websites anyway.  One bag for shredding – anything with your name, address etc and another for plastic coated papers that can’t be shredded or recycled have to go to waste.
  • Of that same section, the papers you are left with can now go into new piles (on the desk/table/floor) – by category – eg all banking things, all insurance things, household bills – you can be fairly general and go through each of those piles later to categorise further.  (Tedious I know but it feels easier by then).
  • Now take another section and go through same process, adding to your new piles as you go.  Eventually you will have new organised piles which will be easier to re-categorise, and make folders or files, to store them and add to them in future. (These can be thinned out each year – I generally only keep household bills for a year).
  • As you are going through, you will notice other paperwork that’s out of date and may find information that distracts you, put this to one side for now (to read in more depth in another session, or near the end of this one).
  • Stick to your allotted time – rather than overdoing it – and maybe plan the days you can or want to do it, in a diary or on the calendar. 

These are only suggestions and hopefully will help, they probably seem obvious and common sense however it’s not always that easy to see the obvious.

Each session you will achieve and it will soon add up, a bit like saving for a holiday.

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