Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Taming the paper monster

This is our kitchen table. I love our table. It's big, fits lots of friends around it, and is perfect for big cooking projects. Alas, it is usually covered in paper. 

As the farm continues to grow the piles of paper and farm debris grow with it. We need a better system or place for all this. If for no other reason than I don't want to lose the phone bill in the pile of NRCS grant papers. 

Do you have any advice? Have you ever run a business/farm out of your home? Is there a way to tame the paper monster? Help!


  1. Mollie, first thing is that if you are going to farm as a business, you have to operate as a business, which means setting up an office of some type, which means not the hobby on top of the kitchen table. A corner dedicated to the business of the farm will do, but you need some place to be organized.

    Next, I suggest going to the store and buying a bunch of folders, or setting up your computer and creating folders (never forget the backups) in which you can keep your documents and records sorted for easy access. I assume you can scan in documents for storage.

    Then you have to continually see that the right docs go in the right files. No piles or undirected emails. It is work, part of the job of running a farm. It makes things much easier when working on a specific item, or comparing months or years or whatever. You just have to consider it serious and essential to the success of the farm and not a nuisance. And backup regularly, and keep your backups on the cloud or somewhere besides home.

    Is that enough stuffy advice?

  2. Lorraine in WisconsinJune 13, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    I also suggest a Dymo label writer. It works with your laptop and prints a variety of labels, including file folders. Labeling all you folders in a readable way is very satisfying and will help you stay organized.

  3. I can't say enough about Excel. We use it for everything money related. I have separate Excel documents for garden, food, honeybee, chicken, and home budget accounts. After receipts are entered into the document, they are filed away in a drawer with files for each topic.

  4. Lorraine in WisconsinJune 16, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    Auld Bruce is right: designate a place for your work space. Working at home requires this; you need to "go to work" at home just as you do if you leave your house to work. I spent some time working from home and had to learn this lesson in order to get my job done and not have it spill over into my whole day in bits and pieces. Designate time each day for doing office work and staying organized, rather waiting until you have a chunk of time to do it. When that chunk of time arrives, it will always be a beautiful day with other tasks or fun activities beckoning you. Making a habit of staying organized will pay off in the long run as most good habits do. Also, I think there are some favorable tax implications of having a dedicated space for a home office with proper equipment.

  5. Great advice on the time management, Lorraine. If one keeps up every day it makes things so much easier. It can be a pain, but mining for documents when something is pressing is much worse.


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