Monday, September 18, 2006

Weekend Mission: Clearing up all Postal Mails

This weekend I picked up the MOST daunting of tasks: Organizing hoards of letters & documents that have been accumulating for more than 3 yrs now!!! If you are staying alone, in your own flat, with a bank account, and maybe a loan and subscription to few mags (which means MOST of us) and above all if you are incharge of handling every incoming postal mail, then you know what I'm talking about! A few days back I desperately wanted a document and to my dismay I didn't know where I put it Arrgghhh!@#$ I knew it is safe some where, but I sniffed out every corner of my house and failed miserably to locate it. That is the time when it dawned upon me that I haven't organized LOT of my documents (coming in mostly via post) for about 2-3 years now. And I vouched to clear the mess the very next weekend.

Saturday looked promising... Brushed my teeth, had bath, filled my stomach with good breakfast and was feeling like kicking some a$. What better task could I think of! It took me well over 4 gruelling hours to get through the backlog. Property papers, property taxes papers, IT papers, electricity bills, water bills, society maintainenece bills, bank statements, milkman bills, purchace invoices, gaurantee cards, etc.: in short it meant that I will have to scan through more than 150 postal mails and sort them out and throw away the unwated ones. You won't understand the pain of doing this and neither the value in doing so unless you have done it at least once. I made 3 passes to locate every document that I had stuffed in drawers, under the beds, under pillow, inside cupboards, my bag, old files, and everywhere else you can think of.

Though not very crisp, for the uninitiated, here are a few tips that I would LOVE to share. Categorize your documents in 3-4 categories:

1. Permanent
- These are the documents that you MUST preserve for your life
- Includes property papers, car papers, taxes filed & paid, payslips, etc.
- Your achievement proofs: gard certificate, educational certficates, etc.

2. Long Lived, 5+ yrs
- You need them handy whenever you planning anything big, like going for a loan, big vacation
- Can't think of anything right now

3. Short lived, 1-5 yrs
- You can afford to dispose them off after a year. You are sure you WON'T need them again because they are outdated anyways.
- Credit Card bills, purchase bills, gaurantee cards, yearly bank statements.

4. Ephemeral, less than a year
- You can do without them and should be disposed off every 6 months or so.
- Paper/milk/maid bills, subscription mails, telephone bills.
- Should the need arise, you can easliy get a duplicate copy

Have at least 1 file each for the above category. Add-remove categories as per your need, but don't forget to live by it and cleanup and rearragne as and when necessary. Otherwise you will find yourself in oacen of papers and won't have a clue as to how to get rid of it.

This might not reflect the magnitute of papers I cleared, but here's the photo of 150+ emptied envelopes stacked besides a CD cover. When not empty, the stack would have been easily 5x-8x this height! Keep a box handy, prefereably near your enterance, where you can deposit all the mails that you get home. If this box is NOT the first thing you notice after entering home, then it's likely your mail won't find it's way into it. Every week, or fortnight scan through it, categorize and file it. Index and label your files properly. You can go a step further and maintain ToC (Table of Contents) for your easy reference.

Any more tips and tricks are MOST welcome. This was a small but IMPORTANT lesson for the rest of my life.

Besides this, it was regular dose of football Sunday morning. Rest of weekend was mostly uneventful.

1 comment:

Sheetal said...

wow.. very neat stuff.. rescanning and rearranging is the most imp factor in keeping it in this state forever though.. :)