Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Getting Organized: The Nth Attempt

One of the great things that resulted from my wallet theft is the resurgence of my desire to get organized. I've made extreme attempts in the past to keep my stuff in order, but have mostly failed.

As I grow chronologically older, the urgency to effectively manage most aspects of my life gets stronger, particularly those aspects that involve some kind of paperwork. There are the contracts, the major purchases, the membership dues and subscriptions, the reference library, computer files, the project archives, the asset management documents, tax and other government forms, etc., stuff that I never did bother with a decade or so ago.

So here I am, starting again. And I've made good progress so far.

Step 1: The first step to any organizing effort is, according to Barbara Hemphill in her book Taming the Paper Tiger, setting up a central station to sort things out. And I've found that in the large dining table we have at home. We only use it during special occassions. In fact, hardly anyone uses it in the day-to-day.

Step 2: Once I identified the workspace, I think about my personal finances, i.e. Money In and Money Out. I focused on finances first because it changes everyday, particularly the Money Out part, and I'm still being challenged by the need to save for a rainy day. In this step, I think about every possible situation I've experienced wherein money came in and money went out.

Examples of Money In: Payslips, Royalties Statements, Asset Management Statements
Examples of Money Out: Membership Dues, Day-to-Day Expenses, Legal Fees, Bills Settlements, Insurance Premiums

The advantage of my working on finances first is that I'm able to create a system for money management that works for me while keeping my other stuff organized.

Step 3: I break the Money Out into three files: Billing Statements and Payments, Purchase of Goods and Services, Legal Fees. Any billing statement and payment reciept goes to the first file; any purchase of goods and services goes to the second file, and; any payment for legal transactions goes to the third file. All Money In transactions go into a fourth file since there's not much activity going on in there. Because I only have a total of four files to work with, consolidating them at the end of the month won't be a case of file hyper-swapping.

Step 4: I lump all Contracts into one file. This will contain licensing contracts, asset management and insurance contracts, warranties and guarantees, memberships, etc. Others will most likely segregate Contracts as individual files, with each file containing all relevant transactions. I chose not to do this because that would mean more files, and I'm more interested in managing my expenses and income.

Step 5: I create five categories for CDs: File Archive, Software, Film, Music, and Fitness. I purposefully separated the fitness videos because its a specialized interest.

Step 6: I break down all my major paper-based materials into ten files: Comics Projects ( artboards, studies and scripts), Graphic Design Projects, Printed Comics, Printed Comics of Other Pinoy Creators, Miscellaneous and Commissioned Artwork, Ephemera of Licensing Agreements, Press Releases, Downloaded Articles, Certificates, and Personal (letters, journals, photos, etc.) This is a system I've been using for some time, though it sorely needs an update.

Step 6: To me, one important key in keeping myself organized is limiting the types of storage I'll be using. I've settled with four--long plastic folders, clear books, CD jackets, long accordion plastic envelopes. Each file I've created above should fit in one of the storage types. They'll all look neat when placed together on a bookshelf or filing cabinet.

Step 7: All books on the bookshelf, categorized by interest. 'Nuff said.

So far, that's the system. I'm sure that I'll be doing some tweaking if a strange document falls on my lap, but it's a start. Keeping organized should not be complicated, and I think that I've come up with something that works for me.

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