Paperwork problems

I need to get better at paperwork.

The admin side of freelancing has never been my favourite. As a sole trader I could just about keep on top of this with a natty little Excel spreadsheet and a bit of luck. As a limited company that strategy doesn’t seem to cut it.

I’ve only been in business a few weeks and already I have misplaced a pack of info from the accountant (which included details of how to pay the accountant before they would actually do any work so, y’know, quite important) lost my banking welcome letter and got myself in a huge muddle about which of my outstanding invoices are due to go to me personally and which are due to the company. 

I’m generally a pretty organised person so you’d think I would be on top of all of this. But I hate clutter and mess and I also hate filing so, I’ll be honest, a lot of stuff around here just goes in the bin if I can’t see an immediate use for it.

This, I have discovered, is not a good tactic. This tactic means I have to call the bank and get re-sent things. It also means I wind up on a weekday morning sitting on the floor starting at random sheets of paper and wondering what they are and where they’ve come from, while also cursing that the one sheet of paper I need is not there.

How long are you supposed to keep paperwork for, anyway? As a journalist I’ve already got paper coming out of my ears. I have boxes of old notebooks filled with scrawl and shorthand in case they ever come in handy, piles of presentations filled with lovely charts and insights about investments, and shelves stuffed with newspaper and magazine back issues.

But – as you may remember – I chose a desk based on its cuteness factor not its storage capabilities. I’ve enlisted the help of an old wooden crate (also cute) but it’s overflowing. So it already looks like I have a hoarding problem, do I have to add old invoices and letters from the accountant into the mix too?

Some companies send remittances through the post, which is wonderful – I LOVE firms who tell me when they’ve paid – but once I’ve checked that off in the ol’ spreadsheet do I need to keep the paperwork? This is one of those things I’m going to have to bite the bullet on eventually and, I sense, I will at some point give into the fact that I should be using the few desk drawers I have for filing important things rather than filling with copies of Time Out and Harry Potter notebooks.  

In the meantime, I’ve got a friend threatening to buy me a filing cabinet for my forthcoming birthday. If you’re reading, please please don’t do that.

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