I feel 100% utterly incompetent.

alisandeSeptember 11, 2005

I made it my mission this weekend (beginning Friday, since I had the day off) to create some sort of order out of my DH's files and my own paper pileup. As some of you know, he is in a nursing home and was not himself for several years when he was still at home. Even so, his files are in better shape than mine, given the face that at least half of my stuff was either in boxes or in files marked To Be Filed. I've had a lot to deal with in the past few years, and my paper handling went from bad to wretched.

I was motivated to really make a difference this weekend, and I kept at it all day Friday and Saturday. I made progress, but the kitchen counters were overflowing with files and "to be filed" when the phone rang around noon today. It was the police. Without going into a lot of detail, we'd had a theft here, and the officer needed a piece of paper of mine in order to facilitate making an arrest. I'm sure you know the rest of the story: I have NO CLUE where this piece of paper might be.

I'd lost it a couple of weeks ago, almost immediately after I acquired it. I've looked EVERYWHERE this afternoon. I've even sat quietly and envisioned the last time I saw it, trying to retrace my steps after that. NOTHING comes to mind. It's as though I had no steps! I feel like a drunk after a blackout. I'm completely out of ideas, and I know you can't find the paper for meÂI'm just here to confess my sins. I've always known lacked organization and was easily distracted, but I never thought I'd become such a complete airhead.

Slinking off to walk the dog...


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I understand your frustration. Been there, done that and in fact, everytime I seem to be making headway, I'm back in paper hell.

One thing I know about myself is that whenever I move a paper from my pile of papers to a "safer" place, I'll never find it again.

Just yesterday, I needed to find a receipt of a defective item that I had paid cash for and needed to return. I thought I had left it in my purse but after a quick search, I didn't see it. I have been pretty good about keeping all receipts divided by supermarket and other stores in ziploc bags so I searched there to no avail. Then I started on the drawers, etc. You get the picture. Well, after all that, I looked again in my purse and there it was.

Susan, look again in the most obvious place. What room would you have gone into when you got that paper? Would you have stuck it in a pants pocket? Would you have gotten on the phone and put it somewhere near there? Are there drawers that you have a habit of sticking papers in before they make it to your To File pile?

Please let us know if you find this paper. At least by searching for it, you'll be able to find all the other papers that also need filing.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 6:28PM
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Well, if it makes you feel better you are certainly not alone, in fact I"m sure almost everyone has had this experience-I know I have!

Something counterintuitive: stop looking! Actually, what I mean is sometimes it really does help to try to quit focusing on finding the lost object, especially as you get more and more frustrated and upset. Give your mind a little time and you may have a thought pop in about the location. Or at least if you relax, you can come back to it later and be a bit more creative or expansive in your search. At least for me, once I get stuck on looking for something missing I often just circle my own tail so to speak, looking in the same places it WASN'T over and over.

Good luck and hang in there.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 7:28PM
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Thanks, guys. Ann, I finally stopped looking about an hour ago. I'm hoping I'll wake up tomorrow morning and go right to the spot. (Yeah, right!)

At least by searching for it, you'll be able to find all the other papers that also need filing.

Boy, did I ever, Marie! I found two rather important things I hadn't realized were lostÂthe title to my car and the deed to the property I've listed for sale. Can you imagine someone agreeing to buy it and me not able to locate the deed? Yes, sorry to say, I can imagine that...

Wish I didn't have to go to work tomorrow. I want to keep filing (and keep looking).


    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 9:07PM
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Been there -- and completely understand your situation!!!

I am the WORST at thinking that I will somehow remember where things (or papers) will be -- whenever I need them!

No. Nope. Insert Serious Giggling and Laughter Here.

So I have HAD to get my act together -- filing papers and creating places where to put things.

Just-In Mail -- Open. Discard. Shred. Put bills and Corresponding Envelopes by Phone. Coupons in Green Box on Counter. Items to be Added to the Household Files -- in the Filing Box (in the home office) until Filed.

But I will start putting receipts into Ziplocs by Store Name (great idea thanks!)

As for stories about finding things -- check the long list of stories on the Flylady.com site -- just AMAZING what folks have discovered after cleaning, clearing and sorting out their clutter and papers .......

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 3:45PM
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Been there & done that!! I've made a lot of progress over the past year in my filing, but I still need to get better. At one time, if I was busy & didn't have time to deal with the papers, I'd just toss the majority of it in a drawer "to deal with later". You all know how that goes! And it was all mixed up - junk mail, stuff that needed to be shredded, & stuff I needed to keep - all in one huge pile. I had no idea where anything was. I did do a little filing, but there was a huge amount of stuff that just didn't get dealt with at all. Our marriage license was lost for a long time.

I still don't file things in as timely a manner as I should. But I do have a "To File" box so at least I know where to look for recent important things. I toss junk mail immediately & I have a "To Shred" box as well to deal with that. Bills that need to be paid go in a small bin with the date to mail on the envelope.


    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 7:42PM
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I see myself in each post here!! Egad!
LOL...I need HELP big time! LOLAM

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 11:04AM
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If you "feel 100% utterly incompetent" let me join your club.

While I am organized for the most part, I had an episode similar to yours when we found a $128,000 lien on our home. (I posted about it on Home Disasters)

I knew that "that" piece of paper to document my compliance had to be somewhere in the office. I

looking, the bonus was that it was an opportunity to cull out no longer necessary paperwork.
*I don't normally take pictures but I documented for DH how diligent I was looking for it.

Paper is my biggest challenge, I guess because it impacts live management issues and requires multiple decisions every day from store reciepts and social obligations to legal documents.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 3:35PM
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It was in my TO DO file. I don't know what I was supposed to DO with it exactly, other than find it.

Thanks so much for all your commiseration. It's very nice to know I'm not alone in my incompetence. :-)


    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 4:17PM
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Susan, you probably put it there because you needed to file it, so there was an action that needed to be taken. Or, if you think like me, you expected to need this paper at a future time and what better place for it than with other papers that needed action. At least you have a To Do File, my To Do's are in several spots right now.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 4:22PM
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...I'd forgotten that I had a To Do file until I ran across it this afternoon. LOL

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 4:24PM
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See, you are competent--just temporarily sidetracked! So glad that you found it.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 6:35PM
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...I'd forgotten that I had a To Do file until I ran across it this afternoon. LOL

LOL! I've been THERE, too. Or, I abandon one bcs it's got too many stagnant papers, and create a new one.

I was going to say that I try to have ONE "important papers go here if I don't know quite what to do with them" place. Bcs a paper like that, it wouldn't fit in the normal filing folders, but I'd know that I need it.

One thing I can say, I almost NEVER throw out something I shouldn't. I can't always FIND it, but it's THERE somewhere. (of course, that means there are tons of papers I *should* have thrown out, but, well, I just toss them when I'm digging for that lost treasure).

I had a feeling that was true for you, and I was sure you'd find it. I'm glad you did!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 9:34AM
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Last winter I went crazy. About five years ago, we paid a contractor to put a new roof on our home and chose the most expensive materials, guaranteed to last 40 years. Well, we had a leak last February. I went crazy, looking for the receipt and guarantee. I mean, we paid him thousands of dollars!!! Anyone else would have kept the papers in a safe place. I was up all night, looked everywhere, every drawer and closet, but nothing. I made myself so ill I couldn't even go to work the next day. Have I reformed since then? No. Do I feel bad? yes And the roof still leaks!!!!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 2:44PM
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Jannie, that's terrible (about the roof)! No canceled check? Certainly the roofer has a copy of the agreement or would recognize that it is unacceptable to have leaks after this short period of time. But, I'm sure that you have exhausted those avenues.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 4:44PM
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Jamie, I've been there too and did use the cancelled check as proof of service. I would think you could get it from your bank.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 5:06PM
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The problem is I also couldn't find the cancelled check, and I didn't know exactly when we had the roof done. I would have had to ask the bank to go back over several years. I do remember the roof got done just before one of my daughter's birthday parties, so I know the approximate month,just not the year. The next time the roof leaks, we will have to get someone out of the yellow pages to fix it. The contractor we had is no longer in business. At least I remembered his name, but he left the area and I have no idea where he relocated to. He was older than me,so he probably retired.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 10:11PM
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