Thursday, March 16, 2006

Paper Tiger

We don't live in squalor. Never have. Even before the days of FLYlady the house was always tidy and we ate regular meals. I'm not pathologically disorganized or lazy. But man, am I easily sidetracked. I can be very easily distracted by things I oughtn't to be and too often leave neglected the bits that, were I just to take a few minutes each day to manage, wouldn't turn into the monsters they sometimes are.

Today I am thinking specifically about paper. It just keeps coming at me and my instinctual response is to toss it in a drawer with a "Gotta get to that", at which point I read blogs or play "just a few minutes" of a computer game or do some sort of household thing that I find more compelling. Like wiping the fronts of the kitchen counters. Seriously. I'd rather scrub just about anything than spend 15 minutes paying bills, filling out forms and returning phone calls. How I worked as an office manager, in charge of 5 staff and overseeing a budget of 1.5 million I will never freaking know. I was a terrific office manager. I got things done, baby! Now, at a time in my life when maybe 15 minutes a day is enough to keep it under control I am hard pressed to find the time. What is up with that?

I know that writing and caring for the family are my most compelling occupations. I find tremendous satisfaction in running a home. Most elements, of it, that is. But the paper thing is out of control, probably because I don't think it is nearly as fun as the other things I need to do. And we are all about the fun over here at Mom Co.

Paperwork that has been ignored will sometimes take care of itself. Like the email from a bride asking if we were coming to the wedding because we hadn't rsvp'd yet. (We're not. And yes, I had the grace to be humiliated that she had to inquire since I myself am annoyed beyond belief by people who can't be bothered to rsvp. I know. I'm a hypocrite.) Or getting a call from the school secretary about our guest list for the auction because I hadn't filled out the reservation form. So that's two pieces of paper that can just be recycled but sheesh.

I open the mail over the recycling bin. My stack of paper isn't full of stuff I never need to deal with in the first place. And I understand, in theory, the "touch it once" principle but in practise, not so much. Unfortunately, the consequences of ignoring the inevitable can be dire. Overdrawing bank accounts, paying things late, missing appointments. And I have, regrettably, done all these things. Mea culpa.

Well, it's Lent. And the point of Lent, among other things, is to reform one's character. I am lazy about those things which I deem unglamorous. And that's just stupid. Admitting you have a problem is the first step toward overcoming it. So I've made some new rules for myself, which I am posting above my desk until they become habitual:

1. I will not read any blogs until I've done my paperwork for the day.
2. Diversion is one thing, avoidance is quite something else. Therefore, for the remainder of Lent, I will not play any computer games.
3. I will pay all bills on paydays. Just knowing the money is there is not enough. (And for crying out loud, I pay nearly everything on line anyway. It's not complicated). Likewise, I will enter all ATM & POS slips the day I receive them. (It's never pleasant when you discover that your hefty Quicken balance bears no relationship to the reality of your bank account).

I am at peace with many of my imperfections. But it's time to rehire my inner office manager. I've been limping by with a temp for way too long.



Blogger Legal Alien opined...

Good luck with new rule #2. I've found that a few methadone-Pepsi cocktails can take the edge off.

March 16, 2006 1:19 PM  
Blogger Edy opined...

yeah, ditto. I guess we'll talk to you after Easter, huh?

March 16, 2006 2:34 PM  
Blogger Grish opined...

I am horrible about paying bills. Seriously, if I had a million dollars I would put the water bill on a shelf and not think to pay it until I see the water man outside with a giant wrench and a smile. So, Thank Goodness for modern technology and online automation. -:) Grish

March 17, 2006 1:12 AM  
Blogger charlie opined...

So, what's wrong with a little indolence now and again? Simply prioritise! Blogs first, lounging around second, paperwork... hmmmmm... 43rd! Guilt... wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy down that list

March 17, 2006 1:33 AM  
Blogger Diane S. opined...

My inner office manager has been on strike too. And I used to be The Queen of organization.

It's the blogosphere. It's corrupted us all.

March 18, 2006 1:07 PM  
Blogger Pamelamama opined...


March 20, 2006 8:13 AM  
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March 23, 2006 3:34 AM  

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