Friday, January 23, 2009

Is Change Possible?

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On occasion, we have been known to scribble out a rough menu for the week. It’s not carved in stone, but it does give us a guideline for what to buy and what we can use up in the freezer. For 10 minutes work it saves us several hours of trying to figure out what to have for dinner every night.

And yet, despite knowing the benefits, it’s very rare for us to actually get round to doing it.

As letters, statements and bills arrive in the post, once opened and glanced over, they get put in a pile on the kitchen table, where they remain, getting pushed aside at lunchtime and scooped up in a pile to be dealt with later when we all sit down to dinner. Sometimes these piles are put on top of previous piles, and sometimes they're put wherever there’s a gap on a chair, in the hall or on the stairs, where they might be joined by piles yet to come.

We know if we dealt with them as we got them, or at least the same day - organised, filed, put in an Urgent Tray – 5 minutes work would save countless hours of frustration later on looking for something we know was put in a pile, somewhere, or being unpleasantly threatened by some business or organisation we forgot to reply to.

We know all this, and yet we still never seem to get our act together and actually be more organised.

And, of course, if we spent 10 minutes each week looking after our accounts – entering the figures into a spreadsheet, putting receipts into a polypocket, and filing the bank and credit card statements rather than putting them in piles, somewhere – then our tax returns would probably only take half an hour, if that, once a year, to fill in and send off.

And yet, despite cursing and swearing next year will be different, every January is spent turning the house upside down looking for bank statements and receipts. And every January is spent wondering if it would just be simpler just to skip the country or form a suicide pact instead of completing the self-assessment tax forms.
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20 comments:

Brave Astronaut said...

My brother! I continue to believe that you and I are living parallel lives on different sides of the Atlantic.

I, too, have grand visions of making dinner each night for the family - but it usually falls by the wayside if Mrs. BA and I have not had the conversation, "What should we have for dinner tonight?"

And the piles grow exponentially in various places about the house, until they reach a critical mass and they must be dealt with with cutthroat vengeance.

I feel your pain.

debra said...

The habits that give us comfort can also be a prison, I think.

PI said...

Ha! After a week of sending out query letters, phoning, and actually being asked on one occasion for 2 chapters = I'm drowning in paper, receipts, notes, records etc; determined that if I ever make a penny I'll be able to leaven any tax bill with the endless expenses.
(Who was it who said writers were the new beggars?)
Spent half the morning looking for a bull dog clip.
I think your menu idea is excellent and hope you are more able to exploit it than we are to carry out our best intentions.
I used to think a handy man would make the ideal husband but now it's a filing expert.

Carole said...

I live with someone who is an auto-filer. So he is in charge of handing me the papers with all necessary tax items on them and I am in charge of doing the taxes.

He gave me the manilla folder two weeks ago already with everything I needed. Today I sat down to start the procedure and then remembered that I needed to check the blogs. April 15th is a long way off.

Charlie said...

I laugh because, as I sit here, I am literally surrounded by piles of paper in this, the paperless society. Some have food stains on them (sauce, tea, etc.) because our kitchen table is the first stop for mail, too.

We do have a filing system, but since it's four feet away from me it's much too inconvenient to use.

And I think your real problem is that you don't want to do your tax form. I have until April 15, so I'll get busy around the 13th.

Kim Ayres said...

Brave Astronaut - the one advantage of the Piling System is that many of the items eventually sort themselves out. When tackled, for example, we may well come across something that required a response by May 2005. So now it just needs binning.

Debra - who mentioned chocolate?

Pat - I always wondered who married bookkeepers and accountants, but these days I can see the appeal.

Carole - and are your pencils sharpened? And what about the state of your desk? How about all those friends you were going to write to at Christmas, but ended up only sending the card? And surely it's time to build a new kitchen. Or move house. Or emigrate...

Charlie - And you with an accountancy backgound too. Unfortunately we have to file ours by Jan 31st or get an automatic £100 fine. If we wanted to put in paper files, the deadline was the end of last October. So once we've figured out all the figures, we then have to figure out how to submit online.

Eryl Shields said...

I spend my nights lying awake worrying about all the things I have to do, then spend my days not doing them, and on it goes. I have a report to write for Monday, and have known about for at least a month but still it remains unwritten.

You may have noticed that our mail lives on the stairs and rarely makes it up as far as the kitchen table.

Mary Witzl said...

We've got chaotic piles of papers too, all over the place. You don't know how relieved I am to know that we're not the only ones! You've seen our place too, haven't you? You know I'm talking about the Real Thing here. The cool thing is that now they're all in Turkish so we don't really know what they mean.

starrlife said...

I too am relieved to hear that others have the same struggles. It feels like a pendulum from organize- disorganize, so exhausting, tempting to just capitulate and be found 30 years later under a pile of papers!

karatemom said...

hey there...I remember last year that this time of year brought you a lot of the same troubles and agitation. I sympathize with you and I think it's a stressful time for many people so in that know you are not alone. If you can somehow take the time to learn to file online..it truly is so so so much easier. Faster and you can work your numbers in many different ways and see the outcomes in different options all the way through ..until you are sure you are done and then send your return. It is a zillion times easier than those booklets and if you by chance are expecting a refund you generally have it back in your account within 10 business days.

Good luck..its almost over!

michael greenwell said...

this is why i am not self-employed

Sini said...

Tax-time, eh? :)
I know exactly how you feel.

Sarah said...

i know that would go against MY nature. i'm a freakin' slob.

the broken down barman said...

i have the perfect solution for all bills that come through my letter box.
beside my door is a poly bag and a bucket of sand.
when i get a bill i "file" it in the poly bag and then stick my head in the bucket of sand till everything goes away.
worked so far, even with inland revenue.
move over paul daniels, my trick is better

the broken down barman said...

i dont really have a bucket of sand, but do just throw bills out till the real final demand or just ignore them till they realize im not gonna pay and they do just seem to go away.
got a feeling it might backfire on me one day, but who knows what tomorrow will bring!!!

michael greenwell said...

and a happy burns night to you all...

"The fear o' hell's the hangman's whip
To laud the wretch in order;
But where ye feel your honor grip,
Let that aye be your border."

Robert Burns

Kim Ayres said...

Eryl - I've been seriously impressed before by your ability to not open mail

Mary - it's probably all stuff about subscriptions to Turkish Reader's Digest...

StarrLife - perhaps we should use all these piles of paper to create a den to hibernate in...

KarateMom - I may not be alone in my angst, but no one else is going to pay my £100 fine if I don't get it in on time...

Michael - despite this, I would still never go back to employment. My dream is that one day I'll be able to afford an accountant.

Sini - if yu know exactly how I feel, you have my sympathies

Sarah - from what you say, I don't get the feeling that hubby is Mr Organised either...

BD Barman - I was quite disappointed when you said you didn't have a bucket of sand. I thought it was an excellent idea

Michael - aye, but honour can too easily go by the wayside when the fear o'hell's upon ye.

Restaurant Gal said...

Let's see, I baked a gluten-free cake for Upset Waitress that she keeps forgetting. We ate half of it at work today for lunch and it was SO GOOD. Then, in an effort not to buy any food until most of what is currently in my freezer is gone, I ate frozen veggies (a ton) for dinner. Um, ice cream for later....

the broken down barman said...

just been to palings for a bucket. gettin the bus to sandy hills the morn for some sand!!!!!

Kim Ayres said...

RG - given your eating habits, I'm surprised you're not a completely weird shape...

BD Barman - Sandyhills? Are you in SW Scotland, or is it another sandy hills (I can't imagine it's an uncommon name)?