Host Families love Au Pairs who are organized! And, quite honestly, Au Pairs who are organized are more happy with themselves as well.
I recently set up an Action File for myself based on the ones I read about on The Nest Effect, A Bowl Full of Lemons and The Organized Student. The idea is one that I think would be a good idea for Au Pairs to use to keep the important things in their lives, both work-related and social, organized.
1. A sturdy desktop file box, without a lid and small enough to easily fit on a desktop.
2. At least twelve hanging file folders, in your favorite color or pattern.
3. Plastic tabs and blank inserts to label the files. These come with the hanging files. Place the tabs on the front of the file, not the back. This way the name of the file won’t be obstructed by the papers inside. It also keeps the tab from coming out when the file is pulled open.
4. A monthly calendar (8.5″ x 11″), to hang over the front of the file box. If you don’t want to buy a calendar you can print off calendar sheets like these from The Nest Effect.
5. Sharpie pens in different colors. Every organization niche blogger that I read loves, loves, loves Sharpie pens. I’ll be investing in some soon. Color code each person on the calendar to their events (see Organizing Au Pair: Household Planning).
6. A pretty cup to keep your Sharpie pens in.
7. Office clips to attach the calendar on the front of the desktop file box.
SETTING UP THE DESKTOP FILING SYSTEM
Categories to use:
1. Planner – holds your planner (see Organizing Au Pair: The Planner).
2. Incoming Mail – holds things you need to look at but later, when you have time.
3. Outgoing Mail – holds things that needs attention before being mailed out and things that are waiting to be mailed out.
4. To File – holds things that need to be filed away in a more permanent place, like a filing box.
5. Bills To Pay – holds bills that you need to pay.
6. Receipts – holds incoming receipts that need to be filed. We’ll delve deeper into why it’s important to keep receipts when we talk about taxes.
7. Phone Numbers – holds a list of phone numbers.
8. Invitations – holds invitations and details of upcoming events, like Go Au Pair Activities and Family Days. When you first get the details, take note of the date and time and add the event to your planner. Later when you need directions or information on what to bring you can refer to the invitation filed here.
9. Instructions – holds work-related things your Host Parents want you to keep track of.
10. Child’s Name – holds things your kids want you to have and things you want to remember about your kids. This can include art, writing, pictures, etc. Add as many files as you need to include all the children in your family. Each month you’ll file the contents in your file box for long term storage. At the end of your Au Pair year you can sit with each child and share your memories.
11. Education – holds things pertaining to the classes you take to fulfill your education requirement.
12. Travel – holds pamphlets and things you’ve collected for future travel.