Post by: Darra Wray, Founder – My Data Diary, LLC (Originally posted January 4, 2021)
The start of each New Year brings renewed energy and commitment to personal goals and resolutions. Year after year, as I turned the calendar from December to January, I resolved to organize all of my family information and documents. Inevitably I would become overwhelmed by the task, would get frustrated by the sheer volume of information, and would ultimately pause my efforts with a bit of progress made but far short of the goal I had hoped to achieve. I am FINALLY able to say that I fulfilled my personal resolution to organize all of our family information and documents last year, and I would like to share some tips with you to help you do the same!
- Set a reasonable goal – This project is one that is going to take some time. Give yourself the full year to achieve this resolution.
- Find a tool or system that works for you – Whether you prefer old school paper and binders or digital record keeping, find a system that works for you. Invest a bit of time to identify the best solution and set it up for your use.
- Break the project down into smaller monthly goals – Focus your efforts on one type of information at a time starting first with personal information and documents. Then, shift your focus to other types of information including Passwords, Education / Employment, Household, Financial, Investments / Retirement, Health, Caregiving, Legal, and Legacy Planning based on the current needs of your family.
- Capture information as you touch documents – Create a habit of recording new information in your chosen tool or system throughout the year. Enter information about a new prescription as soon as you receive it. Capture key financial information as part of your annual tax preparation. Make copies of key documents as they cross your desk for processing throughout the year.
- Consult with your professional advisors – Talk with your accountant, insurance agents, financial advisors and lawyers to make sure you understand the information you should have record of for your personal circumstances. Ask your professional advisors to help you gather the documentation you need and don’t already have.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to find a system that will work for you and that will meet your family’s long-term needs. It was important to me that my organization system was comprehensive, easy to use and update, portable, secure, and easy to share with my family. When I couldn’t find a tool that met all my needs, I created the My Data Diary family information management software tool that allowed me to finally meet my goal.
Once you have completed this project, you will be amazed by how much time you will save when you have easy access to all of the information documents and documents that you need. Whether you are trying to remember a password, file your taxes, refinance your home, or manage your healthcare, all of your documents will be in one place and available at your fingertips. So, take a deep breath, find the tool or system that will work for you, and set your monthly goals. Celebrate the small victories and remember there is only one way to eat this elephant…one bite at a time!
Darra Wray is a Care Consultant and Certified Senior Advisor in Boise, Idaho. She founded My Care Companions and My Data Diary, LLC to help family caregivers streamline and simplify the business of life.