Since January 3rd, the day I pulled my first to-do slip out of my pretty little box, I have been working toward completing that one goal. What did I pull? That little slip of paper read, “Develop preliminary account sheets for our expenses and other accounts.” What?
Establishing the Project
This is actually a project I have wanted to accomplish for years. A system where all the information for paying bills and keeping track of cash flow is all in one place.
Sure, I have a filing system – which has also been getting updated in the past few months – and a tracking systems to make sure I don’t miss paying a bill. But if something happens to me, no one would know where to go or what to do to either continue paying bills or to close out accounts.
So, my desire to come up with a plan where someone – hubs or our kids – can easily find the information and do what needs done.
Accomplishing the Deed
As I worked steadily on this project over the past few weeks, and now that it is at an end, I realize that I – the over-achiever that I am – went above and beyond what I had written on that little slip of paper back at the start of the year. My intention was just to come up with a template, not do the whole project. But here I am, and the entire project is complete.
Well, as complete as it can be, as life is on-going and filing systems will always need to be updated and adapted to meet current life situations. Today, the last day of January, I decided three solid weeks was long enough to spend on it. So, I double-checked my work, printed out the pages, and filed these “information sheets” in a binder for easy access.
This first project of the year is one that I meant to tackle, oh, about six years ago. Due to life, working full-time, and just living day-to-day, I didn’t get very far. However, I can finally say that I have been successful this time around! Yay me!! Lol.
About My Process
Okay so, the day after I pulled my January to-do slip from my pretty little box, I emailed my baby sister. It was she and I who had once talked about developing this project, so if something happened to us, our husbands would have all the financial information they should ever need at the tips of their fingers.
The idea was to show them how it all worked, how they could turn to any page, any expense, and there would be the information, magically assessible, to pay that bill or access those funds. Well, sister – as we call each other – vaguely remembered our conversation and eluded that her husband didn’t want anything to do with learning about the finances any time soon. She said she had a basic system, and could share it if I still needed help. I thought, okay, well, I can still come up with a system that works for me and can be easily learned by hubs, if the time should ever come.
Just so you know, if I haven’t mentioned it before, I have an “attention-to-detail” problem. Seriously, it keeps me from being successful at so many things. This is because I either don’t have enough detail and can’t move forward, feeling immobilized by that lack. Or I have too much detail and don’t know what to do with all of it. Can you see my eyes bugging out?
Setting It Up
So, since my sister didn’t have a template I could easily use, I set out to find something that would work. I searched high and low, and finally settled on a MS Word template for an Accounts Receivable Ledger. I saved it, edited to be more for an accounts payable information sheet, and saved again.
Then, because I like working in MS Publisher best, I opened the document in Publisher, and started formatting it even more. I tweaked it so that it would be useful for all the information I wanted to compile on it, and have available for hubs if he should ever need it.
As I duplicated pages and added information, I decided going through our files was the best way to record the needed data. This, of course, led me to spend more time fine-tuning my filing system. Eyes bugging out again over here!
Interestingly, my brain was having a hard time with everything in alphabetical order. You know, for instance, starting with “Allstate,” let’s say, and meandering on down to, let’s say, “Three Rivers-City of.” So, I decided, since I’ve been using colored folders to file with for years, to color-code my system. So now, I am filing everything by subject like: assets (property) = blue; banks = red; credit cards =orange; health (doctors) = green; pets = yellow; utilities = purple; etc. Each subject then gets alphabetized.
Somehow, my brain can handle this type of filing, and I am now a happy camper.
Okay, so back to my to-do project….
Once I got the files tweaked, I double-checked everything. I wanted to make sure I got all our assets, expenses, and any other companies or accounts included in this new system. My next step was to go through my address book and password code books to be sure I captured every account.
You might be wondering if I’m including user sign-on names and passwords on these information sheets. And, no, I’m not. I am, however, typing them up on a separate document and keeping them in a safe place where, if something does happen to both of us, our kids can find them and take care of shutting down our accounts for us (and emptying our accounts, lol).
Getting Some Background
Being in clerical administration for most of my working life, you would think this project wouldn’t have been so challenging for me. In one way, it wasn’t. I felt right at home, as though I was working in an office other than my own, coming up with a plan and implementing it. In another way though, it was difficult because of how my brain works. I’m a creative. My mind doesn’t want to be bothered by the details, especially at home. I just want to do the fun stuff. I guess, you could say, I’m a contradiction of myself (like all humans)!
I’m grateful now that this project is done, and I can enjoy life a little more and not stress out every time I need to file a report or do our taxes. It was certainly a challenge, which I do enjoy from time to time, but one I’m glad is done – until next time.
Keeping It Simple
Since I do have a tendency to make things more complicated than they really need to be – with all my creative thoughts flowing, I’m always having to remind myself to: Keep it simple. So, I have decided, since this project was meant to simply gather information into one place, to not worry about looking at the information again unless I need to update it.
But, wait, what if I forget to update it – you know, out of sight, out of mind? To stay on top this project which took a good part of at least three weeks of weekdays to complete, I put a reminder on my calendar app to update it in a year. So, every January 1st, I will be reminded to go through our files, address book, and other payment systems to update the information sheets. I will remove ones no longer needed, update others, and add ones for new accounts.
What’s Up Next?
So, what’s next? Well, I’m excitedly anticipating pulling my next to-do tomorrow, February 1st. The idea is that if I have already done a to-do that I pull, then I’ll just take that month off. However, I’m afraid if I do that, I will forget about the project entirely, lol. Two other ideas are to either pick again or to pick a to-do off my weekly to-do list that keeps being carried over never getting done due to so many other pressing day-in-and-day-out tasks.
I will be excited to share with you next time what to-do I pulled. In the meantime, I’ve currently got several other to-do projects going on – personal- and book-wise, which I’ll be tackling and sharing with you at some point in the coming weeks and months.
For instance, my second book is ready to type up; I’m tweaking my February newsletter (if you’d like to subscribe, just click here to email me and let me know you want to be added); I’m still looking at some sort of income – either part-time, contract, or freelance; and, I’m always updating this website (have you seen my new “What I’m Reading” pages? Coming soon is an “Inspirational Resources” page (more on it later).
And Life Goes On….
One thing is for sure, life goes on and time passes us by. Keep at your projects. There are many ways to tackle what you need to get done and stay motivated. Mantras. Spending a few minutes, after waking up, getting excited about what you’ll get done within the next half day or more.
What helps me is knowing I am in charge of my own projects. I can choose to do my own projects whenever I want, on whatever day of the week, in the morning or afternoon. And I can even decide my time is more important on something else than a project I thought needed done. So, trust yourself; when to end a project and or when to take it off your list.
So, there you have it. Take it easy on yourself. Give yourself space to breath, to think things out, to just be.
Blessings for success in the coming month and see you next time!
Love, hugs, and blessings, Virg
Handy Tips For Project Success
- Decide what you want to do.
- Think about the steps you need to accomplish your goal.
- Develop a strategy to get from A to Z.
- Be flexible.
- Use tools to help like sticky notes, timers, etc.
- Choose materials needed: folders, a crate or file drawer, or binder, etc.
- Include other materials such as labels, dividers, sheet protectors.
- Reassess if you are on track.
- Determine when the project is complete.
- If needed, set up a reminder for updating.