Get paper and files in order. This project was on the list we created at the beginning of the Cure. (Or rather, my files were on the list, as not surprisingly, Shawn's files are in always in better shape than mine.) Basically, I have files in three different places: on my desk, in my file cabinet, and in the basement. The movement of these papers is somewhat progressive. The projects I'm working on right now are on my desk. Papers that I need to keep but not access continually are kept in my file cabinet. And papers that must be kept for seven years are filed in the basement, by year. For the most part this system works pretty well. I have my client files in my file cabinet, as well as a few other files that are sorted yearly such as cards, recipes, etc. I also have one file for each month, and one for the current year's tax documents. This last set of files (months and taxes) transitions into a similarly labeled expanding file folder that gets stored in the basement at the end of the year. Since the general rule is that important papers need to be kept for seven years, I have seven expandable files. At the beginning of a new year, I shred all of the papers from the oldest file, re-label it with the year that just ended, and fill it with the monthly papers and tax documents that I've just pulled from the file cabinet. I've used this system for years, and it works great. The problem right now is that those yearly files are currently buried in a part of the basement that we haven't gotten to yet! So for now, this portion of the assignment will have to wait. This week, I just went through all of the other files in the cabinet and threw out anything I didn't need to keep. However, it did occur to me this year that with online bill pay, direct deposit and every other electronic money-managing convenience, I may need to come up with a new system soon. I simply don't have as many papers anymore! Working Together: Shawn and I don't yet have a lot of combined paperwork, so for the most part, we manage our files separately. We have a joint account that we use for shared bills, and almost all of those are paid automatically. The exception is rent. Every month, we have to walk it two blocks over and drop it in our landlady's mail slot, old school. (This is seriously the only thing I write a check for anymore.) However, even though it's not hard, when I was in grad school, even the small steps of writing a check, putting it in an envelope and labeling it could get in the way rent being paid in a timely manner. Then, Shawn had the idea of preparing all of the rent checks for the year in advance. (Brilliant!) Now the check envelopes are clipped together in a stack in the desk drawer, labeled and ready to go at a moment's notice. It's such a small thing, but it's made such a big difference!
Day 15: Exercise a little cord control. Luckily, we're not in too bad of shape when it comes to cords. Our outlets are conveniently located (surprising, considering how our building dates back to 1783), and most of the outlets have large pieces of furniture in front of them, so cords aren't seen anyway. The one exception is my desk area, which sits in a corner of the living room. I have a cordless keyboard and mouse which help keep the top of the desk under control, but the cords under my desk are a different story. While the cords that plug into the power strip needed to be corralled a little better, the biggest eyesore is created by the printer and external hard drive cables that need to be plugged into the USB ports on the front of my computer tower. They didn't used to be, but due to a computer issue which requires them to be unplugged every time I restart my computer, I've moved them there for convenience. I'm hoping that this won't always be the case, but for now it is. Working Together: Shawn has been kind enough to handle my myriad of computer issues as they come up, and he's managed to keep the cords fairly under control, as well.
Day 16: Give your bathroom and medicine cabinets a cleanout. As you may remember from my first Cure diary post, the baskets on the shelves in our bathroom are our biggest clutter culprits, and as such are one of the projects on our list. However, with all of the ground we needed to make up from the last couple weeks, we haven't been able to work on it yet. Fingers crossed that we'll get to it this week. Day 17: Take a look at your living room lighting. Our living room lighting has always bothered me. For starters, it only comes from one source — an inexpensive IKEA floor lamp positioned between my desk and the sofa. For years we've looked for something to replace it with but for whatever reason, have never pulled the trigger on something new. But besides the fact that we'd love to get a lamp that we like better, I'd also just like to have more sources of light, in general. We have good-sized windows that bring in a decent amount of light during the day, but at night (and especially in the winter) the dim light makes me want to go to sleep. (Shawn doesn't seem to have a problem with this the way I do. He can sit and work in the dark, while I have to have every light in a room on.) At Christmas time, we had the white lights of the tree on if we were home, and for festive occasions we added candles. I realized then how nice it was to have different levels of light in the room, and how much warmer it made the space feel. Working Together: We both agree that we'd still like to find a new lamp to replace the one we have. We also agreed that adding a table lamp or two would be nice, too. (And given the disparity between our light preferences, I think dimmers are definitely in order.)
Day 18: Weekend chores, flowers, living room, empty the outbox. After the deep cleaning of the floors at the beginning of the month, our living room is not in too bad a shape. And since we'll need to take out a zipcar to drop off the donations from our outbox, we've decided to wait and empty it once we finish the basement. We have a bunch of books that we'll be trading in for credit at The Book Trader, our favorite used bookstore, and the rest we'll be taking to Philly AIDS Thrift. We used to take our donations to the Salvation Army, but between their limited hours of operation and their donation restrictions, have switched to Philly AIDS Thrift, where they're always happy to see you and will take just about anything you'd like to give. Working Together: Like the bedroom, the living room is an area that we try to keep on top of on a regular basis. So, for this assignment, we just took about a half an hour to tidy up a bit. I dusted (as I usually do), and Shawn vacuumed (as he usually does). Sunday we were scheduled to go to our friends' house for a soup supper, so I asked Shawn to pick up some flowers from Whole Foods while he was picking up the ingredients for the appetizer we were going to bring. (Given that he doesn't know the difference between pansies and peonies, he was pretty pleased with himself when he found these for $3.99.) That's our Cure so far. We still have a little ground to make up from earlier in the month, but all in all, we're not in too bad a shape. "Before" and "After" images to follow next week… How'd you do? MORE OF BETHANY'S JANUARY CURE: • Week One • Week Two • Week Three (Images: Bethany Seawright)