Documentation

Guides, Lifestyle

Y’know those workouts we all skipped during quarantine? Well… they’ve come back to haunt me in the form of household administrative tasks. My spouse was among the hundreds of thousands who lost their jobs in 2020, and this has unfortunately created a need for a massive paper trail for each individual on this journey. My prior homelessness has granted me what I feel to be a rather unique skill set — one of which deals specifically with documentation. So I decided to create what I hope is a helpful crash-course with reference to current events. If it helps you, please let me know.

Journaling for Personal Success

In my early adulthood, one of the best pieces of advice I was given was, “When things happen, write it down.” This led to me journaling as things occur in our lives, be they finances, promises made by entities outside the home [such as the housing authority, or social workers] or events both good and bad. For example, my spouse was “fired” several months ago, but things went down in a bit of a weird way. We sought all the help we could find. I kept detailed notes the whole way through. Then, a few weeks ago, we needed some paperwork from the company he’d been at for the housing office, so I phoned to request it. Moments into the conversation, the gentleman to whom I was speaking informed me that my husband’s “firing” hadn’t exactly been in agreement with the company policies… my husband has been rehired, and is already back on the job. This wouldn’t have been possible without my notes.

Pro tip: this works for illnesses and hospitalizations, too. In fact, many people keep track of their daily eating / drinking habits.

Household / Event Journaling Tips

This isn’t so much a “how-to” guide for journaling as a whole. There are so many different journaling styles and methods out there, but today’s focus is strictly on putting together notes on current events / life events. Here are a few pointers:

  • Write as neatly as possible.
  • Always include the phone number[s] and other contact details for anyone spoken to at least once in your journal.
  • Include dates documentation regarding the circumstances was received.
  • Always include the date things are occurring.
  • Always include the name[s] of anyone you speak to regarding the situation.
  • Write concisely. Use names or label-identifiers such as “my supervisor” rather than pronouns [he, they].

Writing Concisely

Basically, you need to write down everything, but you don’t need to write down everything. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy narrative including the gossip from that one caller you just can’t get off the phone. This is more general. Include important quotes from a call if needed, but they honestly probably won’t be. For example in my journal on the 22nd:

Ms. Kiersson* called needing confirmation that Drew no longer receives unemployment. Drew has been locked out of the DES website since his benefits ended; we are unsure why.

My personal bullet journal.
*name changed for privacy.

My notes on the 22nd led to these notes on the 23rd:

Find unemployment paperwork and email to Ms. Kiersson*.

Was unable to find any direct confirmation of Drew’s unemployment benefits ending. I emailed Kiersson* a copy of the Wage Transcript & Monetary Determination page from DES and let her know Drew is in the process of requesting direct confirmation from them.

My personal bullet journal.
*name changed for privacy.

At the end of these notes, or in the margins nearby, I will have a running to-do list for that day. I also keep notes throughout the day about my work so that I can gradually build something akin to a schedule more organically {if you’ll stick around, I talk about organic scheduling at the end of this post}.

Digital Documentation

For digital documentation, I personally use Google products, but you should use whatever you prefer. Whatever you do, though, please be consistent. If you use Gmail, I highly recommend creating a folder within Gmail specifically for specific organizations, senders, etc. Take care never to delete until it’s officially no longer necessary. Most mobile phones can also scan documents if you don’t want paper copies.

Organic Agenda

I couldn’t end this post without at least briefly discussing organic agendas. I found that I burn out quickly with a typical “hard and fast” scheduling technique where a set amount of time is committed to each task. But not all of us can just throw out the day planner forever; the world would stop. In granting myself a bit of time to study and explore what I wanted in life, I learned that I have 3 types of tasks: habit, flow and future. Habits are items that are repeated daily in my journal [studying a language]. Flow tasks that come up throughout the day or week [tidying a room of the home]. Future is scheduled days or weeks in advance. I set rules for my habits and flow, limiting the number of tasks I’m “allowed” to focus on in a day. This keeps me consistent while allowing for rest and plenty of free time.

Thank you for reading; I hope you found this helpful.

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