I’m Stuck with My Files, HELP!
A great example from yesterday for getting unstuck with too much paperwork can help all of us
to get unstuck. A senior woman I met a year ago called me, and said she needed help with her
filing. She was feeling stuck even though her life’s work was one of being organized, she just
could not get out of the mess of papers everywhere. That is not uncommon. She had tub and
boxes full of papers that needed filing. She moved six months ago into a new apartment and
that was part of the procrastinating and chaos with paper. Any number of things can cause
being ‘stuck’: 7 ways get yourself unstuck.
With her new housing arrangement and widowhood. she needed to review what papers she
needed to keep and what file categories best suited her. With a guide sheet we selected the
categories for her files then we worked together to edit her current single file drawer and an
extra file box. With a list of five file categories and the system used in the webinar at
elisahawkinson.com/calming-office-chaos we tackled the project and made great
progress in an hour. We had five categories in the drawer; using tri-cut file folders we had used
the left file cut and made a front to back row for PERSONAL files, a center cut file folder
category (front to back row) for FINANCIAL, then a right cut file folders for a row of
LIFESTYLE files. Then one more center cut file folder row for the category of
At the very front of the drawer was a center cut file labeled NOW, CURRENT where she
could have easy access to files like the retirement community’s activity calendar for the month,
and the menu for the dining hall. She could also have any other file she would need to have
quick and frequent access to like an upcoming reunion or birthday celebration with details for
driving or gift ideas.
The file box she had became her collection of current Medical files; one file for each health
category she had records, labs or x-rays for: orthopedic, heart, optical, dental, and wellness
records. That gave her a way she could have easy access to and not have to go through the
stack of papers she had to find a specific lab report for a heart issue. Those files could be in the
single drawer if it had been larger or a second file drawer in the desk.
The woman said she had a habit of doing her dishes each day and she was willing to add the
habit of filing each day using a calendar for each week that would help her lay out her
commitments and appointments. She felt the weekly calendar* would help her stay on track
and she would use a timer for each of the segments she chose whether it as 15 minutes or 60
minutes or 90 minutes. A color pencil would be used for each segment of time.
PERSONAL PLANNING GUIDE
A 3-ring binder for her son, the executor of her will, had already been assembled with all the
final instructions and information of sources for retirement income and social security, service
preferences and a list of people to contact, financial information. estate information and a few
other personal details. She is intentionally making it as easy as possible on her son for her end
of life details. That is another beautiful example of adulting to the last breath.
* email to request a copy of the weekly calendar and it will be sent upon request.
Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson
Professional Organizer | Author Calming Your Chaos | Leader of the Smooth Organizer Community
Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson
Since 2000 Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson, author of Calming Your Chaos, has been teaching and training businesses and individuals to support anyone who is not naturally organized on a consistent basis to be just that. Her HOW2GetOrganized seminars, workshops, and speaking along with hands-on coaching and coaching by phone has evolved from her natural genetic bent for order. Efficiency, calm, productivity and profitability are increased with the help of HOW2 and Elisa.
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