One of my worst traits in the past was a lack of organization, and more than once it cost me severely in the form of late fees, weakened friendships, and so on. The biggest problem was that so many of these things need regular maintenance, but I am terrible about doing these things on my own. It used to be that if I didn’t pay a bill as soon as I saw it, it would inevitably incur a late fee because I would simply forget about it.
Here’s what I do to keep my regular financial tasks in line, and it’s easily expandable to fit other regular tasks.
First, I keep a large paper calendar with huge spaces for each date. For personal use, this is more than enough; it gives me room to write several tasks that need to be done in each square.
At the start of a year, I write down all important dates, and I also write in a notice a week or two in advance for all the ones I need reminders about. So, let’s say my father’s birthday is on May 1 – I write in a reminder note on about April 20 that I need to get a birthday gift taken care of.
At the start of a month, I copy all of the regular things from the previous month down. I have two bill paying days (the 8th and the 22nd), I mark when I expect to be paid with regular checks, and I indicate several personal tasks as well. When I have a house, I will be adding a lot of routine and preventative maintenance items to the calendar.
Then, each day all I have to do is check the calendar and see what needs done today. For now, some of the days are empty, while others have two or three things on them; when we move, I anticipate filling up a lot more squares.
It seems simple, but it really works for me. I use it as a complement to my getting things done philosophy, which handles all of the irregular stuff in my life. It also is very effective at keeping those late fees and such at bay.