I’ve always had a problem managing paperwork. It breeds. Truly it does. When you are not looking, it does a quick one, two and doubles it’s size. Recently I got so frustrated with my paperwork that I called a professional organizer.
I felt a little embarrassed and more than a little silly. Friends and family have told me, if you just opened the mail and took care of it as it arrives, it wouldn’t be such a mess. However I know that it’s not that simple. (That, or I’m delusional). The reason I think it’s not that straightforward is because I almost NEVER get mail at work and my desk is a sea of paper. When I do have a cleanup it reminds me of those people who drill a core sample out of the earth and read the layers – yes, that was the flood of 1967! Well, my desk is similar. Oh, there’s all those papers on that topic.
So I phoned an organiser. Karen arrived last Monday and for the first few minutes I was a twitchetty person as she looked around my unit. Finally she said ‘it’s not that bad’. In fact, she even found things to commend me on – like my pull out art drawer will all the jars clearly labelled. I didn’t take a before photo of the paperwork, so I’ve gone back through some of my photos of the cats and looked whether you can spy the mess in any of them. The photo to the left has a glimpse - it’s the stuff almost falling out of the cupboard to the right of the television. And the stuff on the floor. Oh, and another lever arch folder in the walk-in wardrobe, one in the bedroom and then assorted piles of paper in other unusual locations including the washing basket.
There were the remnants of a filing system in there somewhere, yet I never file anything. I was so relieved when Karen said to me – ‘well you don’t even have a desk – where do you process this stuff?’ Therein lies part of the problem. ‘I just don’t know where to put it.
And do any of these make me want to file? The horrid port-a-file; the archive box; the suspension files – no!
After some time going through the mail and sorting it into categories, we discussed purging. How long did I really need to keep this stuff – both legally and personally. Better yet, why did I keep some of this stuff?
We also talked about where the mail goes the moment it comes into the house as that is definitely part of the problem – at the moment it gets put anywhere and everywhere!
Last, but not least, the ‘filing system’ needed a solution. We settled on using a ‘manilla folder’ system placed within a basket. The basket would match my other furniture and the folders with TABS would allow me to quickly see what was inside. It would not be stunning beautiful however it would have the edge over the port-a-file, leverarch folders, archive boxes or suspension files.
We had come up with a plan for paperwork, gathered it all into one area of the house and in less than an hour! Whereas before I stared at it like this overwhelming teetering tower of paper, I now had a plan and it didn’t seem so scary.
Well, I can’t answer that question because I’m STILL purging. These two piles can all go. I’ve deliberately not tossed as I’ve gone along as I want to see how much I am able to throw away. I think it gives me a sense of satisfaction looking at the purging pile growing and the filing pile shrinking. It motivates me to keep going. Which is lucky really, because in the meantime my basket got taken. (Naughty Saffron!)
I’m pleased to say that I eventually got Saffron out and my folders in. It’s all a work in progress yet I’m pleased with where I am at. I don’t have any regrets about calling a Professional Organiser and no longer feel silly. I wish I had done it sooner!
Saffron concurs. She isn’t even impressed enough with this breeze to sit by the open door. Instead she has curled up in a green bag and gone to sleep.
Perhaps she has gone into shock at the state of my unit. I’m not sure who’s unit this actually is… it was mine this morning but things change so quickly. It has been transformed into a tidy space. I have to thank the intervention team of 4, pud and dad who descended upon the place with tools in hand and buckets of energy. I can now relax in the thought that the place looks decent enough for Saturday’s rental inspection. Not that it’s ever really dirty – rather – cluttered. This was fine for every real estate agent who ever inspected in the last 4 years until the last lady came. First person ever to remark on my cluttered style. At the time it made me very mad. I was angered that a real estate agent gets to judge whether ‘my home’ fits their standards. I even re-read the contract. I checked it thoroughly for any indications that a home must be tidy, neat, ordered or spartan. Of course there were none. Only that the home should be clean. I have since learned that she no longer works for the real estate agent. It seems that she was none too impressed with a number of tennants and they in turn, they were none too impressed with her!
The invisible rulemakers
While I am on the subject of the joys of being a tennant in Australia I might as well go the whole hog. Worse that someone deciding whether your living style meets their expectations, is that the landlord, body corporate and strata managers get to decide key elements of your lifestyle. To be honest I often think of the body corporate and strata managers as figments of someone’s imagination. I acknowledge that one frequently hears of the body corporate. However have you ever seen one? There’s no office with ‘body corporate’ signage. There’s no letterbox. Forget the invisible man of politics the true mystery of today is the body corporate. Really, think about it… what does a body corporate look like? What makes a body look corporate? Is it the human figure which has been processed, streamlined, structured, and programmed to function off finance rather than more natural fuel? However I will put aside for a moment the mysterious-ness of the body corporate or the strata management company and move on to the critical question at hand. Why do these people get to decide whether you have a pet? In some situations, your landlord may be quite happy for your to own a pet, but this body with the corporate look has decided you cannot. Ah, I hear you all cry out… but of course they can decide this. Pets can be messy. True. However so can children and I’ve yet to see a complex advertised as ‘no children allowed’. (I suspect retirement villages are generally without children, although with the age of childbirth creeping ever higher who knows what may happen in the future). In 2011, with more and more people remaining single, I believe pets should start to have the same rights as children – at least in the home. I get mad when I read on the cat protection society website that a cat was surrendered because of “unfriendly accommodation”. (As an aside I applaud the efforts of the Cat Protection Society in lobbying for more pet-friendly complexes). My home was ‘pet friendly’ when I moved in four years ago. That I have a cat is listed on the lease and I delight in seeing dogs and cats around the place. Recently the strata management company issued new strata laws which said only fish and birds (in a cage) were permissable. I checked with the real estate agent regarding a grandfather clause. Surely if you have moved into pet friendly accommodation, they cannot suddenly become unfriendly and expect you to give up your pets. The answer I received was – as much as they knew – it was fine to continue as before. So while that’s good news for Licorice, Saffron and myself, I do feel for anyone new moving in who may be denied the chance to have a pet.
One last comment before completing the tennants’ rant. Please, someone tell me why people can make enough effort to carry their garbage to the garbage room but they cannot put it in a bin? It’s much like men and toilet seats – you lift the lid, make your deposit and return the lid to the previous position! It’s not that bloody difficult!!!
All this talk of tenancy matters may have led you to conclude I’m in a bad mood. Actually I’m not. The rant above is in stark contrast to some of the joys of the weekend. Many of them were small; just those odd little moments that one comes to love. Since learning to draw and paint I find that I notice more of my environment than ever before. I can be stuck in traffic and instead of steam bursting out of my ears I’m noticing the way the sunlight is reflecting on the footpath; or the pattern the rain has left on the road. As Andrew said, you can find beauty in anything if you try hard enough – even in cat poo.
The photo pictured here is of mangroves to the North of Kiama. This natural wonder has a somewhat tarnished reputation in my memory banks as I always associate it with kayaking on sports camp when I was young. The mangroves were my enemy at this time given my kayak was consistently stuck in them. These days, I enjoy the mangroves for the twisted gnarly nature. For the curious shapes and shadows they can cast.
Now that I’ve had my first blog post of the year – and a particularly unfocused one at that – I shall retire to bed. This shall be easier tonight than previously as there is a clear pathway now that the inadvertent carpet protectors (i.e. my clutter) have been removed.