Household paperwork is a very common source of anxiety.
How do you feel when the day-to-day paperwork piles up?
How do you feel when you can’t find that crucial document?
How do you feel when you miss an important deadline?
Most of us would respond with words like frustrated, annoyed, stressed, or even angry. To sum up all the negative feelings, I will use the word anxiety.
It seems like a fitting word to describe the worry we feel about neglecting something important mixed with the fatigue of constantly running to catch up.
The anxiety of paperwork is real, and it can really wear you out.
Thankfully there is plenty we can do to make it easier! Here are three simple strategies that can help you conquer the anxiety of paperwork.
Strategy #1: Create a clear storage system
Imagine a household where there is no paperwork system.
Dad grabs the mail and plops it on the dining room table, but Mom comes by and moves some of it to the family room and the rest to the office. The son brings home a flyer from school, but leaves it in the car. The daughter left a birthday invitation on the kitchen counter, but Dad slid it the catch-all drawer while he was helping with dinner.
When papers drift around the house with no rhyme or reason, it’s hard to find what you’re looking for when you need it.
It’s almost time for that birthday party, but Mom has to spend thirty frazzled minutes checking all the usual spots, worried that the invitation is lost, which means she doesn’t even have the phone number to double check the address.
The answer to this source of anxiety is a clear storage system.
Everyone in the family agrees: All the papers go in these trays on this table in this room. Even if it isn’t perfectly organized, when the storage system is clear, at least you know where they are.
Strategy #2: Tackle the paperwork at least once a week
I’m guessing you don’t jump up and down with excitement at the thought of answering mail. It is very natural to put off taking care of business. I get it. Paperwork isn’t fun.
But here’s the thing . . . At some point you are going to do these tasks. You’re going to pay that bill, rsvp to that wedding, and fill in that permission slip.
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
By waiting until the last minute, you invite anxiety. You’ll have a large stack of papers to deal with, multiple urgent deadlines, possible missed deadlines, and no chance of a break.
Instead, I’m suggesting that once a week, you clear time in your schedule and force yourself to take care of business. Being on top of things replaces the urgent pressure with calm confidence.
You’ll hate starting, but you will love finishing!
Strategy #3: Downsize your life
I worked with a client, I will call her Michelle, who homeschooled her children, ran two home businesses, assisted with the PTA, and volunteered at her church. She was drowning in papers, files, and emails.
Although each individual commitment was valuable in and of itself, trying to keep up with everything (not to mention feeling guilty every time she dropped the ball) was eating away at her. She told me she would sit at her desk hours past her bedtime just to try and catch up.
By taking on too much responsibility, Michelle had set herself up for failure, and then perpetually kicked herself for failing.
If this story resonates with you, it might be necessary to cut back on commitments . . . at least temporarily.
Michelle chose to step down from some of her volunteer positions, and it made a huge difference. Although that decision was not easy for her, by relieving some of the pressure, she is free to enjoy her life.
These strategies won’t solve everything, but they’re a great start!
If you really want to overhaul the administrative realm of your home, you should definitely check out the Paperwork Mini-Series.
In three short lessons, I will show you how easy it can be to:
- Streamline your email inbox
- Get control of your digital pictures
- Create efficient routines for your daily household paperwork
- Completely overhaul your file-cabinet
I break down these projects into bite-sized pieces so none of it will be overwhelming. By the end of the last lesson, you can finally say goodbye to paperwork anxiety!