May 8, 2020
My name is Maureen McMahon, your PSD Communications Specialist. After 15 years of working at home as an editor, writer, publicist, and parent, I’ve learned a lot about the importance of intentional space. This series is meant to share simple strategies honed from the holistic living emphasis of my journalism, and are suggestions to help you navigate working from home and heightening your awareness.
Home these days for all of us is filled with competing needs, so every suggestion is of course hypothetical. All ideas are mine, stemming from my knowledge of holistic living and daily practices, and not the PSD’s. May you find a new way of working you carry with you. Thanks, Maureen
Intentional Space: empowering responsibility
The opportunity of the moment is to use the time we have been given to take what we can and, with wisdom and intention, improve. Financial stability is on everyone’s mind. Thoughts turn to what we can make feel secure while the world shifts around us.
A simple strategy for improving what you can for you, your family, and your future is simply to pull out all the paperwork and get organized. Knowing the details of all the affairs and having your important information in one document leads to greater awareness. It is a process that can replace stress with an empowering ownership of responsibility. It is a way forward in uncertain times.
A Sense of What Is Needed
Use this time to review your resources. Write down the answers to the questions at hand. What is needed for shelter, sustenance, and caretaking? What is needed beyond these requirements?
What levels of commitments make sense for transportation, vacation, online shopping, entertainment, beauty, memberships, charitable giving, and so on. Do your expenses reflect your values? If you have dependents, are they aware of their expenses and is there a value match?
If you are called on to support another, what would it take to feel prepared?
What feels like you are taking care of life at home? What feels like you are doing your part to stimulate the economy?
Can you identify periods of time when you were with a plan and when you were not?
And who should be hearing your ideas?
Write down the answers to get a sense of what is needed.
Next gather your paperwork. It is not always easy to take a closer look. Start by simply getting the paperwork in front of you and commit to moving through the emotions that arise as you work out a strategy for security. Emotions are an information system that helps you understand the needs of the past, present, and future. Write about them if they keep arising. If you find it hard, remember this is about choosing what is next.
Take the longview of your progress. What do you wish you had known then? What advice would you take or give?
Make some time to research and optimize the partnerships you engage for services, lending, and security. Adjustments to services like internet providers, grocery, and streaming can be done in a day from simple research. Take more time to review banking, lending, and insurance. Reach out to improve long-term strategies for optimizing retirement plans, financial securities, and investments. What feels like the way forward for each category? Do your homework. Read the reviews. Check your gut. This will lay the foundation for the file work.
If the sense of what you need is an overhaul, read how to do it. There are manageable steps like studying your credit report and creating correspondence to qualify for a higher score, questioning fees, and negotiating a better rate. Figure out who holds your debt and ask after it. The process is detailed but worthwhile, and it at least helps us feel like we have a voice. If what you need is to file with social services, do that first and work on the rest while you wait for the mail.
An Organized File System and The One Document
With a picture in mind of what you want, set aside the hours it takes to get every category handled and filed. This project produces two tangible systems: an organized file folder system as well as a single document with all your important details that easily communicates what is in the files.
Begin by making file folders for your accounts. Make them labeled and neat. Each lender gets a folder. Each account gets a folder. Line them up.
For many of us, this is a huge job. Make it manageable, do it together, take breaks. Stick with it. If you have a hard time with what you see, take a break, but return. Every pile is a path surrounded by other paths.
While you sort, recycle, and clear dusty corners, again consider if you like the other half of the partnership represented in the paperwork for each file. It represents a flow of your resources and an exchange. How do you feel about it? Ask if this partnership makes you and your dependents happy.
Consider how that partner operates. Which stakeholders matter most to that partner? Research brand information and news about that partner’s loyalty towards customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and finally, shareholders. It is empowering to assert your role and invest in a value match among partnerships.
The other big question is, can your resources do more for less? Use this time to consolidate or upgrade your strategy. Tally the spending and the benefits. Ask your friends and family what the best strategy is for the partnership you want to upgrade.
Only keep the paperwork that makes sense and recycle the rest. Take care to shred sensitive information.
Consider online document delivery instead of papers to manage. If you go that route, put time on the calendar each month to visit the inboxes for each partnership.
Streamline your systems. Set up online bill pay for at least minimum payments. Organize your log-in information in one place. Commit to keeping it current and cycling out the old documents.
Finally, in case you need to communicate what is in these folders quickly, make a “Roadmap to Important Papers” that communicates vital information. This one document will be a quick reference guide for you and your family. It covers the basics from contact and insurance policy numbers to banking and account details. Download it, fill it out, and save it on your computer.
The wisdom is to have three printed copies available: one with your In Case of Emergency household, one with someone not at your house, and one among your files. This grab and go system was designed to be the one thing you’ll grab in an evacuation. Put on your calendar a day to update the details annually so it stays current. Maybe add a photocopy of your passport, list of medications, advanced directive, and power of attorney to the one document. Consider doing this process for your older family members.
We are all with this work anyway, so why not approach it intentionally and feel better about our responsibilities? There are no obligations, only opportunities.