Sunday, September 1, 2013

Taming the Paperwork Monster

There's a paperwork monster in my house and it's making life difficult ...

Situation report (evidence of the monster's existence):
1.   Piles of paper all over the desk.
2.   There are huge 'sort out later' paper piles on the school/sun/dining room floor.
3.   Several shopping bags full of homeless resource books are lined up next to a cupboard.
4.   My filing drawer is never opened as it's full of old paperwork.
5.   Digital devices are also under attack:  emails, bookmarks and items saved to desktop are accumulating at an alarmingly rate.

Input is multiplying at an alarming rate, while action, disposal and filing are floundering in the depths of procrastination and perfectionism (more about those characters another day).

I know why this happens.  I like collecting ideas.  Resources.  Information.  I greedily read and save, bookmark and sometimes print.  Books are heavily tagged with post it notes.  I scribble on several notepad pages a day (despite having a ridiculous number of journals for every possible need).
I have a pinterest account, online reading list and Facebook articles tagged to revisit 'later'.  All are kept with good intentions (education, enrichment and inspiration) ... but maybe that's what hoarders say about how their collections of newspaper, tyres or jars started.

I LIKE having lots of ideas, but there must be a better way to manage them!

Now, I have made myself sound terribly messy.  Here's the dining table (very versatile, it is also our art studio, science lab and writer's den) ... half-organised, half-messy, half-visible on a sorting day a month ago:

I considered and dismissed some easy options:

run away from the mess
delegate the decluttering
toss it all in the bin

Then I googled "homeschool how to tame the paperwork monster" ...

These links were enough to encourage me it IS possible to evict the paperwork monster.  I am starting to form a plan.  I don't want a formal system ... I like to do things spontaneously, creatively and playfully.
I just to consider the desired outcome, allocate time and space to the initial (mammoth) task, and develop better daily habits.

I don't want to drown in a sea of possibilities that started with a harmless drip.  I do want to catch up on important paperwork that's been lost in transit for years, and enjoy a tidier future.  Of course, I also want to be a better role model for my children and a tidier companion for my organised husband.

I WILL tame the homeschool paperwork monster!

P.S.  Progress has been made since I drafted this ... I was left at home alone yesterday for several hours (gasp!)  Lots of filing, sorting, dusting, recycling and sorting were done.  Hooray!
Items 2 and 3 have been eliminated!  The monster is beating a hasty retreat.  Next target:  the desk.


  1. I worried about containing the homeschool clutter when we first started homeschooling. I was pulling my daughter out of the middle of 1st grade public school and there were hundreds of papers, many of them empty because my daughter refused (and still refuses) to do busy work. We started homeschooling with an online curriculum (Time4Learning),my daughter was a reluctant writer and hated doing workbook pages so there just wasn't a lot of extra paper hanging around. I have the opposite problem. I do not have a lot of written work to keep as record of her accomplishments or to show improvement. I have grades and copies of quizzes and tests, and lots of artwork and work from the white board. I take pictures of the work she does on the white board and save it digitally. It is not as satisfying as paper, but bytes are much easier to store than file cabinets of paper! Maybe scanning in some of your paperwork would help with storage/filing for you?

    1. Thanks for replying, Linda. I print some of the digital records we keep, as work samples in portfolios.

      Like you, I photograph a lot of what we do ... science experiments, costumes, sports, work done on the whiteboard, and art such as plasticine models, woodwork, sewing, collages & pictures painted as gifts. The children have several folders each with sections in which we file the children's finished work, so the 'papers' I complain about are mainly blank worksheets they 'may' use, and my endless collections of plans, booklists & ideas. I also taught this age group for several years, so I have lots of resources ... but although the topics are relevant at times, we usually find more enjoyable ways to do things. I need to evict some of those kinds of books, which have some merit but are generally superfluous in our read-aloud, watch and do type of homeschool.

      I do ok with paperwork when it comes registration time, and I keep good diary of what we do, but in between my planning notes pile up. I need to be better at finishing each job before I move on to the next. Scanning work is a good idea ... a safe way to keep some special work. Thanks :)

  2. Ha, good luck! Will be following your progress with interest :)


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