A few weeks ago, my friend Kelly invited me to a craft party. I've been getting in touch with my more feminine skills lately, cooking dinners from scratch and learning natural ways to care for my home. And I adore Kelly. I knew it would be fun. I knew I would say yes.
I knew I would humiliate myself.
I don't craft. I am awful at any sewing at all. I can't seem to make a button stick to a lapel. Hems unthread immediately after the last stitch goes into the cotton. I have no patience for cross stitch or crochet. Some of the lovely people at Kelly's party were making decorative (and beautiful, I might add) cards, light switch covers, and scrapbook pages. I can't do any of that well enough to be worth the time and money commitment. I've tried - and failed - many times. Know thy weaknesses, right?
So I turned to what I am good at - organizing. Who says organizing is not a craft? (Shut up. It's totally a craft.) I looked around for a project that was portable. And there it was. Staring. Glaring. Looking at me like it was a vampire and I was a bowl of bloody soup.
The file pile.
That crappy pile had been growing forever. It was literally starting to tip over. Fortunately, it was corralled, mostly, in a red file container. But at least four times in the past two months, I've had to dig through that pile for a copy of a birth certificate, a shot record, or my engagement ring warranty. It was time to deal with it.
Note that the photo of my overstuffed filing box is EMPTY. That's because all that is left from the MASSIVE PILE OF FILING DOOM is the blissfully empty container.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am a fan of touching the paper once, filing it away, and forgetting about it. But the reality is that most paper comes into my house at exactly the wrong second for actually dealing with. The paper arrives in the house when we do, after school, along with backpacks full of more papers and homework and dinner prep. I have a system for things going back to school. I deal with those things during homework. Things that are trash go in the trash. Art work that the kids want to keep go in the baskets on their individual shelves. And things that require action go with my planner.
But filing stuff gets shafted. I have no time to deal with it. So it goes in this red box. And over the top of the box. And on the floor next to it. Then, it creeps into the kitchen...
So I put all the stuff in a huge tote bag and off I went to the craft party, armed with a list of the files I currently have, a sharpie, blank files, and sticky notes.
Over the past year, I've been weeding out my files, one or two a day. So I really only keep about 25 categories of files. Also, when I file something new, I always check to see if there is something I can get rid of.
I keep that handy list of files in my planner. It serves the purpose of making sure I don't have three files for writing samples: writing, writing samples, and the how-in-the-word-did-I-use-that-stupid-category samples of writing. You can see why I need a file list. In advance of the party, I slipped my Moleskine notebook complete with that list into my tote bag.
At the party, I put a sticky note on papers that needed to go into files on my list. I used the name of the file on the sticky note and returned those papers into the tote in ABC order. For things that needed a new file, like Taxes - 2012, I made a new file with a sharpie. No fancy labeling for me, or I'd never get it done. I alphabetized the files and returned them to my tote.
I also ate lots of fondue, laughed, talked, and didn't even feel like I did any work.
When I arrived home, I put the files and the papers, sticky notes still attached and already conveniently in ABC order, in the file cabinet. Yes, I store it in my four year old's closet. Shrug. We have extra space there. The file cabinet is not exactly a frequently used item, so it does not need to be wasting valuable space.
Get yours files together, call some girlfriends, and have a filing party! It will be painless, I promise. Well, almost painless. But add some chocolate fondue and a glass of wine, and then - painless! :)
This post dedicated to Maura Brady, who was kind enough to mention that she enjoys my blog. :)