Wednesday, January 27, 2010

#26 The Encyclopedia of Your Life

#26-Paper paper everywhere!  We are adrift on a sea of paperwork, and just when you're sure you've sorted the last piece, filed the last statement, and shredded the final bill stub...the damn mail carrier comes to the door with another pile of it, or the kids comes home and dumps the backpack...sigh.  Much of it, you can get rid of, but some of that paper needs to be kept and today's tip is about what to do with some of the keepers.

Some paper we keep and we never plan to touch it again, but if we throw it away, we're in trouble.  Some paper we keep and we only need to review it once in awhile, maybe once a month, or a few times a year.  Other pieces of paper, we touch weekly, daily, or even several times a day.  This high frequency paperwork needs to be at your fingertips, and is appropriately named, FingerTip Files.  Get yourself a 3-ring binder and start building your Encyclopedia of Life.  Get a tab for each family member, and tabs for other sections that are important to your family's life.  Go through that stack of important paper on your counter and see if it contains things like take-out menus you use all the time, school lunch menus and newsletters, recycling calendars, class phone lists, phone numbers for neighbors, doctors, dog-sitters, etc.  Any piece of paper you find yourself touching on a regular basis should be included in this book.  Under the tab for each family member you might also want to include things like insurance cards, social security numbers, immunization records and any other critical health paperwork.

On the front of this binder print, in large type, the street number of your house, the home phone number and the cell numbers of every family member with a phone.  Here's why...911 researchers report that the most frequent single thing that causes delays in emergency personnel getting to you in a crisis is that when people are panicked they can't remember their own house and phone numbers to tell to the dispatcher.  When the system works properly, the 911 people can tell who you are from their caller ID, but the system doesn't always work perfectly and if you're having trouble, or the babysitter can't remember, but you know to look on your binder, you'll have the information you need. 

A binder works great because there is a finite amount of space, so when it gets full, you have to take stock of what's in there and purge some of the outdated stuff to make room for the new stuff.  When the updated take-out menu arrives, toss the old one.  When the new month's lunch calendar comes, recycle last month's.  When the new shot record comes, shred the expired one.  Just like an actual encyclopedia, a new version comes out regularly to keep up with the current information.

My point.  Get a binder.  Get a hole puncher and keep it next to your binder.  Regain some space on your counter and embrace the Encyclopedia of your Life.


  1. Would an expandable pocket folder work?

  2. That's a great idea Nancy!