Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Challenges with Organizing Paperwork

In our Boot Camp Giveaway this week, we're asking folks to write in with their paperwork challenges. Gabrey writes,

My absolutely biggest challenge (and there are many) with paperwork is the garage full of my dad's papers, films, videos, audio tapes, artwork, books and artifacts from his 50+ year career. There are 28 boxes of papers alone. I finally began the sort... but it will take SO MUCH TIME! Meanwhile, my own meagre system goes wanting... I hope I win the bootcamp so you can help me with this mess!

Gabrey--That's a lot to deal with. On one hand, the volume of stuff to go through is overwhelming and stressful. On the other hand, wading through your dad's belongings is emotional--and can prove difficult to sort through. My advice would be to first determine what your end goal is. If you could make it happen in a snap, would dad's stuff disappear (keeping only the truly important stuff) or Is your ultimate goal to have your dad's belongings catalogued neatly (almost like a museum)? Would your dad's work benefit from being shared with others (schools, family members, etc)? After determining what the desired result, your job going through his items will be much easier.

If you are keeping a lot of the belongings--are there family members to help you sort through it all? If it is just you processing everything, always put yourself on a timer and organize like you're on a mission for your predetermined time period. Ignore phone calls and emails until your time is up. Whittling away at it, a little at a time (without distractions) will add up. When I'm working on a project, I always like to determine (realistically) how long it will take--and work backwards. Say it will take you 30 total hours to process the contents of the garage. Get out a master calendar and break it down. Every weekend for the next 8 weeks, spend one hour organizing your dad's paperwork. That way, you have an end date in sight (which makes any project more doable).

(Image from Flickr member Umpqua used under Creative Commons License)

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