Linda Clevenger

When Paper Clutter Becomes Overwhelming

by | Dec 13, 2014 | Columns

A weekly column on Fredericksburg.Today by Linda Clevenger, Organization Direct.

When piles of paper become mounds, it can become too overwhelming to deal with any of it.

It becomes a spiral situation.

Pile management becomes the norm when the mail continues to arrive.  Deep down you know there are bills to pay and filing to be completed and the registration form for your child’s summer camp.

Quickly it can develop into a situational depression that affects not just you but your family as well.

This is what our client was feeling last weekend. We worked together for five hours, doing nothing more than pulling paperwork from every bag, box, folder, envelope, counter, dresser and even suitcases.

A lot of the paperwork included bills that had already been paid. They just had not been shredded and/or eliminated from the stacks of papers. It was a relief (and still scary) to see four large bags of paperwork leaving the apartment.

Working through the paperwork can be almost an impossible task to do all by yourself. As our client said — and she gave me permission to share this with you — “I would have stopped working on the paperwork after just an hour or sooner if you hadn’t been there to keep me moving forward.”

As we went room by room and she shared all of the places paperwork was stored, you could see her stress level rise. The first step in helping her work through the paperwork was to identify specific paperwork that she was looking for. There would be a ton of sales materials and “junk mail” that we could easily identify as trash. However, what paperwork was important to her. We broke it down into several categories:

Medical paperwork
School paperwork
Memories, i.e. pictures, letters from grandparents, etc.
Other important information, i.e. mortgage paperwork, etc.

We extended the kitchen table out as large as it would go so that we had the most workspace available, and pile-by-pile we worked through all the paperwork.

For five hours we did nothing but open, sort and toss mail. I could hear her heavy sighs, as if to say, I wish this were over. And I could see the disappointment and depression in her eyes because she had let it get this far.

When we finished going through the last bag, you could see an instant of relief on her face.  It quickly turned to overwhelm again. With a deep sigh, the real work began.

First, we filed paperwork that did not require any immediate action. Then we prioritized what was left. Of course, bills were the #1 priority, then summer camp information that needed to be completed and lastly, medical bills that needed to be submitted for reimbursement.

I know she was relieved and yet still overwhelmed at the end of our time together. This was an absolutely huge step in the right direction. Now, we will work on developing a system that will keep her on track on a day-to-day basis.

Do you struggle with paperwork? You aren’t alone. We have lots of blogs on our website about how to deal with paperwork and some real life issues. Life happens…it’s how you deal with it that matters.

Don’t Agonize – Get Organized

Columns on Fredericksburg.Today are recurrent features on specific topics or by regular contributors.  Guest writers present their own point-of-view and may not necessarily represent the viewpoint of Fredericksburg.Today.

Thank you for reading.  Follow Fredericksburg.Today on Facebook and Twitter, too.





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