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The Paperwork of Life

By Kara Eberle


The paperwork of life surrounds me.


Mail is piled on the mantle, and I know I have to go through it. But I dread going through the bills, junk mail and envelopes filled with insurance paperwork.


I’d rather scrub 12 toilets, wash sinks full of dishes and fold clothes from morning ’til night.


But I know that paying bills and checking those insurance claims are necessary.


So, about once a week, I sit down with my folders and mail and bills, and get it done.


I’ve tried making the activity more enjoyable, to trick myself into liking it.


I tried drinking wine while doing the bills, but that didn’t go well. I only got drowsy and lost interest.


I tried buying fun office supplies, thinking that pretty purple, pink and green paper clips and a cute Simple Shabby Chic filing box would help. The novelty wore off quickly.


I tried buying a filing cabinet and spent an afternoon labeling the tabs and sorting through bills and documents and putting them in the appropriate hanging folders. That didn’t work either.


The “system” I always revert back to is my ever-dependable “piles of procrastination,” or P-O-Ps for short.


My husband and I coined this phrase one day when we realized that we pile up things we don’t like to deal with — in corners, on shelves or almost any flat surface in our home.


Usually, POPs gather on surfaces that aren’t used daily.


The mantle over the fireplace is perfect for POPs. The computer desk also sprouts POPs. Even our wide window ledges hold POPs.


It’s within these piles that we usually find important documents, such as vehicle registrations, insurance cards and birthday money from the previous year.


I’ve gotten better about my piles in recent years. And, for the most part, the bills are documented and stored in a binder, one for every three months or so.


And I’ve read lots of articles about organization and even tried reading a book about getting organized.


Get a filing system, they say.


Clean out everything you don’t need, I’ve heard.


A place for everything and everything in its place.


It sounds so easy.


But after a week filled with long work days, doctors’ appointments, birthday parties, laundry, yard work and more, the paperwork of life keeps coming in.


And more piles of procrastination grow.


Kara Eberle is editor of Smart. Sign up for a free subscription to the magazine at



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