4 Tricks to a PCS Proof Home Office
I have a confession to make. I haven’t always had a PCS proof home office. My husband and I have a paper problem. For our entire stay in Jacksonville we pilled, filed, and boxed paper bills, insurance policies, and receipts. When we arrived in our new duty station, box after home office box came off the truck and was placed in our much smaller office.
After I opened the boxes our home office was exploding with paper. It took a serious minimalist effort to purge the paper bomb, but that’s a story for another blog post. These organization hacks that can help you maintain a PCS proof home office year round. And a PCS proof home office means less stress where ever the military sends you next! Yay!
Related post: How to Keep a PCS Ready Closet
Sign up for paperless billing
The less paper you have, the closer you are to a PCS proof home office. Digital records are key, especially when your home office is being transported across the country. If you have access to a digital copy then nothing can be truly lost, even if a box never makes it to your new home.
When it comes to preventing paper clutter, the easiest things to do is sign up for electronic billing. So long as you check your email regularly, you should sign up for paperless billing. I used to worry about having a paper record for everything. Then I realized you can save as/print to PDF any bills which you want to keep on file.
Use a Joint email address
My husband and I have a joint email address to which all our paperless bills are delivered. We have the email account set up on our individual phones, so we both receive notifications when the bills come in. If either of us reads the email but doesn’t take action, we mark it as unread. A joint email account works really well for us! I strongly advise it, especially if you are a military family subject to deployment. If you set your bills up to go to a joint account from the start, then you won’t need make changes pre-deployment.
Pro tip: cable and internet providers often set you up with an @provider.net email address to which your paperless bills are delivered. You should to go the extra mile and set up your ebill to go to your regular email address. You should also want to check your bank statements monthly if you have auto-pay set up.
Cable companies are notorious for signing customers at promotional rates. The rates rise without warning some time later. Reviewing your bank statements will help you catch the price increase immediately.
Digitize papers immediately
Even when enrolled in paperless billing where offered, you can’t eliminate important paper mail entirely. Many important documents like medical benefit explanations and bills still come via snail mail. If you want to prevent a messy office digitize everything you can as soon as possible. OVERTIME PAPERS MULTIPLY! Before you know it your home office may look like it was paper bombed, like ours did.
If you digitize paper documents as you receive them, you’ll be one step closer to a PCS proof home office. Yes, there are many documents that you need in paper copy. However, our problem was having unnecessary paper copies and assuming we’d have time to deal with it later. I held on to papers that I thought I might need later down the road.
It doesn’t make sense to have paper copies of documents that you MIGHT need again! Especially if you don’t know when you’ll be moving again. When you’re a military family orders may be issued or changed at a moments notice. The last thing on your mind is scanning and shredding what you don’t want to move.
If it’s a birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree, or insurance policy you should file the paper version. But medical documents can be scanned, e-filed, and shredded. The same goes for receipts you need to retain for tax purposes. Scan and shred them immediately! It will prevent you from having to spend hours separating, scanning, and shredding what you can digitized at your new duty station.
My husband and I have this compact scanner (pictured below) and it works for us. I consider it a PCS proof home office electronic because it folds up into a neat little square with nothing sticking out that can be easily broken. It’s also wireless in case the chord gets lost in the move.
Get a desk that hides clutter
Chances are, there is paperwork in your house right now that you have not dealt with. I bet you have opened or unopened mail sitting somewhere in your home right now. Am I right?! Here’s the thing, it could be inside your desk. If you get into the habit of keeping paperwork inside your desk, it won’t end up in any random place the movers might cram it. Tearing open box after box looking for that one thing you need isn’t what you’ll want to spend the first night in your new home doing.
I recently watched a minimalism video on YouTube, which advocates “putting your things inside your things.” For home office organization, this means putting paperwork inside your desk. A desk should have more storage space than a single drawer for pens, staplers, and post it’s. A desk needs to have a drawer big enough to store papers too. If you pick the right desk for your needs, you might not need a filling cabinet. Do yourself a favor and pick PCS proof home office furniture.
I’m a fan of wider pullout surfaces instead a regular executive desks. The wider pullout surfaces allows you to spread out administrative papers instead of pilling them. This gives you a visual reminder of what you need to do. I’ve had two minimalism desks like these in my lifetime. One from Amazon and one from Target. Minimalist desks are particularly well suited for styling a into another room if you don’t have a separate office space. Let’s be honest, base housing doesn’t always promise a home office.
If printing then recycle
I feel like this goes almost without saying, but my father’s office would say otherwise. If you are going to print something out to read, then recycle it as soon as you finish. Paper is recyclable and laser printer ink is cheap! Okay laser printer ink isn’t always cheap, but it is when you buy it from the right vendor. Cough cough Amazon.com.
When you’re trying to maintain a PCS proof home office, don’t feel guilty if you print and recycle more than once. It’s better to print-recycle-print again, then to print-pile. If you pile it, then there’s a good chance you won’t go through it before the movers box it. And once it’s boxed you have to deal with in on the other side.
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