Sunday, March 1, 2009

March, Week One: Home Office Questions

Leeds begins this chapter by asking the reader to answer "yes" or "no" to these questions:

1. I have the money in my account but I forget to pay my bills on time.
No: if it were up to me, I might pay my bills late. But as I said previously, Mike is on top of this.
2. The minute I see a legal paper of any kind, I become immobilized. I just don't deal with it.
Not exactly: I don't become immobilized, but I don't generally have a lot of patience for minutae.
3. I could be more productive at work if I didn't have a million voice mail messages, e-mails, and faxes to respond to.
Yes: I seriously have to get my work life organized too. I keep on top of my voice messages and e-mails, generally, but I do not do an adequate job of filing my e-mails and deleting unnecessary ones. And I get A LOT of e-mails. Regina also has a book about One Year to an Organized Work Life, which I plan to get my hands on!
4. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Good help is hard to find.
Yes: isn't that the mantra of the oldest child? Mike and I are both oldest children, so we are really sunk.
5. I'm too busy with other things to file my papers.
Yes: Given that we do have a paper problem, I suppose the answer to this question, honestly, would be yes.

Leeds says that each one of these statements is based on fear, and she poses several questions to flesh out these fears. Here are some of them:

What do you remember about your childhood in terms of the work lives of your parents? Did they enjoy what they did?

Yes, I believe they did. Both of my parents earned their bachelor's degrees in education but then later in life went back for master's degrees, in social work and counseling. So I did get the sense that they pursued their gifts and their interests in finding careers.

How did your parents relate to paper?

I don't remember my parents struggling quite as much with paper as we do, but I think when I was a child we just didn't have as much PAPER! (in the dark ages...) Seriously, though, we didn't have the excesses of everything that we do now.

Did you pick up after yourself as a child or did someone do that for you?

Certainly no one picked up after me! Even as a child, I was a "piler." Early in my life, I developed the habit of accumulating clutter, and then occasionally going on a clean sweep and cleaning the whole lot, feeling a great sense of satisfaction. I was certainly never a neatnik, but I also was never a complete slob.

Were you a good student with effective study habits?

I've always been the type of person who spends more time doing what I really enjoy. I guess I'm lazy! The result was I got to high school and had never really had to study much before, so I didn't do very well in Algebra 2 or Physics...and my grade point average really suffered. I was able to turn it around my senior year and college. But I have seen this tendency in my oldest son, who definitely prefers literature, history, and language arts over math and science! The way it manifests itself in my life is that I spend my time doing things I enjoy, while less enjoyable tasks do not always get done (hence my disorganized house).

Are you married? Yes. Are you the one who handles the day-to-day business? No. Do you feel that you are appreciated? Yes. Would you be happy if you could turn the reins over to someone else, whether that's your spouse, an assistant, a CPA, or a bookkeeper? As I've said, Mike handles many of the house details already. I struggle with guilt about paying someone to clean our house or do other tasks I should be capable of doing myself. It's not so much fear as guilt! And I do know a number of people (my sister included) who have had house cleaner I guess there is a certain amount of mistrust as well.

Are you on top of your paperwork? If not, has it always been an issue? Or did something derail you? For the most part, we are on top of it, but there is definitely room for improvement!

Leeds then tells three stories about her clients and their individual struggles with paper in their lives. One question she asks is whether our distribution of labor regarding home paperwork benefits both of us. This is a question Mike and I should discuss. I'm curious to know whether he feels the paperwork responsibility is a burden, and whether it's something we should be sharing. He describes himself as "obsessive" about these types of details, so I suspect that he wouldn't want to share it with me. (Similar to how he feels about driving the car: he prefers to be in control, which is fine with me, because I'd rather be reading!)

The goal of this first week is to "uncover your personal relationship with the business of life." My goal of this first week is to make a healthy headway in the mess that is our office.


  1. I really enjoyed your answers.

  2. Thanks for the affirmation--I appreciate it!