Clear as … Ice?

I was filling up the ice cube tray with hot water today, and it got me thinking about all the household hints and handy tips I’ve collected over the years. Yes, unlike most (likely) normal people who just read or hear about them from others… I like like to keep a list of interesting household tips. It’s not like I write them or in a book or anything, they’re just stored on my computer.

That got me to thinking. How many of these tips in my collection have I ever really tested out? I quickly scanned my current list (I also have an older one that I haven’t updated in a while). I can honestly say, I tried and still consistently use a handful of those tips. Many of them still sound like a good idea, but I either forgot about them or it just doesn’t currently apply to something I need to do.

Okay, so the truth is, I am an information junkie – perhaps one might even consider me a hoarder. Thankfully it’s mostly in electronic format. While I do have quite a bit of paper, I am slowly tackling that. I have switched many of my accounts to no paper versions. There are still a few I am afraid I will forget to check and pay if I don’t have a paper bill to remind me. I tend to need to “see” things to remember. I am testing out Outlook reminders for these. I think if I change them over gradually I will adapt better. 

I have a tendency to be a paper piler. I don’t mind things filed away, but I procrastinate and then I have huge piles to take care of. I have a couple of baskets and boxes filled with papers. If they could talk, I am sure they’d chastise me and send me packing on a grumpy guilt trip.

I have also started my scanning project. This is for papers I will probably never need again, but it makes me feel better before I get rid of them. 

I really do have the best intentions to get everything organized. I like (okay love) when everything is in its place. My attempts to actually get it that way are sporadic at best. When I do get the organizing bug, I go gung-ho and tackle some project. Sadly though, most of my paperwork it just corralled and ignored. That is, until tax time, when it becomes a mad dash to take care of it all. Logically I know that if I took care of this stuff on a regular basis and didn’t avoid it for so long, I would save myself a lot of undue stress. Logically I know a lot of things…. but it doesn’t mean I always listen to myself!

Yesterday I finally started reorganizing my paperwork. I don’t know why, but I want my paperwork to look “pretty”. Maybe nice colours will make me “want” to do my paperwork. Maybe I can convince myself of that! So, I finally dug out my “new” supplies. Several (okay more than 6) months ago, I bought some nice new teal hanging folders, a box of file folders, color-coded labels, tabs and a veritable rainbow of Sharpie markers. I was tired of the drab army green hanging folders. Many of my file folders are almost as old as me (okay only half as old). They have been re-used many times, and have seen better days.

Before we moved, I got rid of my big lateral filing cabinet. Now I have several filing tote/bins. In addition to the normal household paper, I have paperwork I have to maintain for my business (both past and present). Since our business is home-based, I have to hold on to statements and bills for seven years. I’d love to be like my friends and family who only keep their recent bills/statements. Okay, who am I kidding? I would still have all my paper – just in case.

My advisors in the financial areas don’t help either. I think they secretly have huge stocks in paper mills. I’ve asked some of them what I need to hold onto, and their answer is generally “EVERYTHING”. It’s rediculous. One of my RRSP accounts sends a statement every month, as well as other updates. I have years and years of their paper. I decided I am going to scan a bunch of them and then only keep the current year. Maybe sometime soon they’ll catch up and start offering them in electronic format.

I remember the days when they used to paint a picture of this fantastical paperless society. Personally, I just don’t think it will ever happen. I only check my “community” mailbox about once a week and it is always full. Most of it is junk. I really think we have even more paper now, than we used to.I shudder to think if we did not have recycling. At one time, all this stuff would have gone in the garbage. I honestly just don’t remember having as much garbage, as I would now if I had to combine my recycling  with my garbage.

So, so now I’m trying to store less paper by having electronic copies. This opens up a whole new organizing realm.

  • How should I organize my electronic data so it can easily be found?
  • How often should I backup? Where and how should I backup?
  • How I do I keep this information secure?
  • How much information do I keep?

I can’t answer these questins for you. You have to setup a system that works for you. I have my own system for organizing everything, so I can find it. I was trained as a programmer, so I think like a programmer. My system might be very different than your system. Just do what works for you.

Luckily, no matter how you choose to irganize it, storage space is pretty affordable these days. It’s easy to store all kinds of information you need. It’s also easy to store all kinds of information you don’t need.

I am guilty of electronic hoarding. I keep tons of email: correspondence, jokes, newsletters. You name it, and I have YEARS worth. I might like it, want it, need it, refer to it, or reminisce over it. It’s like a timeline or time capsule of my life. I know it sounds kind of crazy, but I just can’t help it. It’s kind of like my dirty little secret, because nobody can “see” all my files. It’s not like they’re in boxes stacked up in my closets, or sitting out on my bookshelves, or littering my desk or floor in piles. It’s all hidden away in one box. My box just has semi-conductors and computer chips.

Speaking of my electronic hoarding… back to my list of household tips.

Did you know that if you fill your ice cube trays with hot water, your ice cubes will come out clear rather than cloudy? It really works!

Who cares if your ice cubes are clear or cloudy? Good question. I’m sure it doesn’t matter, but we always have clear ice cube – JUST IN CASE!

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