More About Organization
We like to purchase Christmas gifts throughout the year. To do that successfully, you have to be fairly organized. Sue uses a spiral notebook to record the gifts we have purchased for each person in the family and to note ideas for other gifts. If we have something in mind to buy for someone, she writes the item under that person’s name in the book. When we purchase the item, she underlines it. This is very handy. We store the items in large plastic storage boxes until we are ready to wrap them near Christmas, and there is one box for each person. We not only purchase regular Christmas gifts for our children and grandchildren; we also give each of them 12 small gifts, one each day for the twelve days before Christmas (for five people, that’s sixty gifts). And, finally, our grandchildren’s birthdays are both in December, so we are also accumulating birthday gifts in the storage boxes. It would be almost impossible for us to handle this activity without good organization. Incidentally, the gift books make interesting family history documents, since we have many years of gift information in the notebook.
Our family enjoys playing boardgames and card games almost every Saturday, and we like to keep a record of who won each game. I update the list of winners each week and use a spreadsheet to track “points for finishes.” The winner of a game receives 8 points, 2nd place gets 4 points, 3rd gets 2, 4th gets 1, and 5th and 6th (or 7th) get no points. We have a record of our gaming from January 2001. One document shows all the games and who won the game on what date, along with the current record high score. The spreadsheet shows how many games each person has won, by month and year, and how many points they earned, based on how they finished in the games. This all started when some of us lost a game and then said, “I never win this game.” Someone else would say that of course that person had won the game in the past, but no one could remember for sure, so we decided to keep a record.
Sue and I have spent a lot of time working on our family histories. We both have collected lots of old photos, documents, genealogy information, and artifacts from our ancestors, as well as from our own lives. To engage in that hobby requires good organization, and that fits well with our life style. We have numerous notebooks containing photos and documents, identified and cataloged, using acid-free mounting paper and protective page covers. I have hundreds of old photos in photo storage boxes. The photos are numbered, identified, and cross-referenced. I can look up an ancestor’s name and find the numbers of all the photos in the collection in which that person appears. I have also written any information I know about every photo, keyed to its number. It is about as complete a family photo collection as I know how to create. It appears that Sue and I have always been collectors. We both saved all the letters we received from each other while we were dating for over a year before we married (and neither of us knew the other was doing it). We combined all the letters and cards into one box, in chronological order. Over several months, I typed up all the letters, to preserve the information, in case something happened to the original letters in the future. I also scanned the cards we sent each other and any enclosures, such as newspaper clippings, that were enclosed with letters. All of that has been copied to a CD. It is an almost perfect record of our communications during that time and contains some interesting historical references about things that were happening in the world around us.
We use a monthly work list to assure we do not forget something important that needs to be done around the house. I have items listed, by month, in a Word document. I print the month’s work items at the beginning of the month and post it on the refrigerator. Probably 90% of the items are my responsibility, and the rest are Sue’s or ours together. Sue keeps a greeting card organizer with pockets for purchased cards and dates of birthdays and anniversaries. For many, many years, we have kept a wall or desk calendar on which we note all appointments, baby-sitting days, and many related items of interest that we do not want to forget or miss. Before the end of each calendar year, we purchase a calendar for the coming year and add all repetitive information (birthdays, holidays, etc.) to it, before the year begins. We have a file cabinet in which are organized various documents, such as all types of receipts and paid bills, filed by month; financial documents; instruction books and warranties that come with purchased items (filed by type of item); medical receipts and records; income tax-related items; and auto maintenance records. We have determined, documented, and filed in a small safe at home (and in our safe deposit box) our family trust, instructions to be carried out upon our deaths, powers of attorney, and similar important items. We have just finished digitally photographing all the rooms and furnishings of our house and will soon copy those photos to a DVD and store it in our safe deposit box for insurance purposes (as well as hundreds of photos of the items in our various collections).
Okay, I’m sure there are more examples of our organization efforts that I could include, but that gives a fairly good picture. What is interesting is that all these efforts are second-nature to us. It is not a burden to create, maintain, and use these organizational products. In fact, we would be terribly lost without them. As I said before, once these things are written down, they no longer bother our minds. We rely on these lists, files, and calendars to make our lives easier, and they work well for us.