How to tame paperwork, and knicker drawers
Last week I was lucky enough to have coffee with Tracy Ross. We met in The Pudding Stop in St Albans where Tracy lives with her husband and children. After giving up commuting to her London job in television, and looking for the kind of home, family, work life balance most of us are grappling with, she transferred her spotless organisational skills to her own business, Blissfully Organised.
Tracy will not shame you. She won’t start stuffing teddies into black bin bags before you are ready. She hasn’t even seen my paper piles but while talking to her about them, she put me at ease. It goes without saying that we talked about Marie ‘KonMari’ Kondo and I told Tracy about my Damascene conversion last year when I tidied my sock drawer into rows of tightly rolled up snails. Twenty-four hours later the military order had been destroyed and it was business as usual. What impressed me about Tracy was that she didn’t blanch at any of my confessions. She didn’t preach. Instead, she said that it’s about finding your own way. We talked about family life and different styles of being and doing, and she said that while she chooses order, she would never try to convert her own family. You see? She’s reasonable. And very kind.
I can see why Tracy is in demand. She listens, she doesn’t judge, and she says that people open up to her – in more ways than one. ‘It can be very intimate,’ she says. ‘When someone invites me into their home, it’s a privilege.’ She told me when you look into someone’s knicker drawer you quickly build up a level of trust. I would recommend her with alacrity. I might even invite her in to my own home. I will have a rudimentary tidy up first.
Here are a few handy helpful paperwork pointers from Tracy:
Top Tips For Chaos Management – How to tame the paperwork
1. Buy a family planner: As your family grows it’s essential to keep track of everything needed for each member. This will help you plan ahead and identify your key pressure points.
2. Action in-tray: Keep an in-tray for all paperwork that needs to be dealt with and set aside a little time each week to deal with it. Keep a good supply of envelopes and stamps.
3. Go paperless: Set up direct debits for as many things as possible. This will help you manage the family budget and reduce the number of ad hoc things you need to deal with.
4. Deal with all school letters as soon as they come home and send responses back the next day.
5. Set up a simple filing system so you know clearly where to find everything – i.e. insurance, utilities, car, tax, phone etc
6. Have a special drawer for key documents – passports, birth certificates, cheque books etc
7. Buy birthday cards and gift wrap in bulk and set up a present bag. Knowing who you need to buy for each month means you can buy ahead, post gifts earlier using a cheaper postal option and stay on budget.