I have gone major Blogtober MIA. I am trying to think of something special to do to make up for it as Blogtober draws to a close over the next week!
An organization project that has been on my mind for quite some time is how to organize car maintenance documentation. This project is somewhat of a companion to glove compartment organization, as the glove compartment tends to become the catchall for car maintenance documents.
I am not particularly passionate about car maintenance, but I am passionate about organization. I am finding that just about any undesirable task can become fun when placed into the context of something else you actually care about. For me, that something else is figuring out how to organize things in a way that is user-friendly and makes sense to me.
A Visit from the Organization Fairy
Yesterday I decided that I wanted to clear out my backlog of random papers to scan in before I did anything else, including post to this blog (which, unfortunately, I never got around to). I have had a small stack of papers sitting in my room for the past few months. I had gotten behind in my “scan, save to Evernote, shred/recycle” routine, and the stack has been staring at me and driving me crazy this whole time.
I would say I had about ten papers that were related to car maintenance in the stack: a few that I cleared out of my glove compartment a few weeks ago, and the rest were from recent smog tests, oil changes, and tire replacements that I wanted to scan into a car maintenance notebook in Evernote, but just hadn’t done yet.
When the idea to get the car maintenance documents organized came to mind, I figured it would be one of these projects that would take at least a few hours. I actually wasn’t even intending to get this done yesterday, but once I got the remaining documents scanned in and started saving them into Evernote, it kind of just happened on its own.
Creating a Car Maintenance Organization System
We already had a template set up in our “Reference – Shared” notebook (I have also created a shared example template here), which is a notebook with general reference information that I share with my boyfriend, Michael. Since we each have our own car, there are two notes related to car maintenance in this notebook: “Auto – Maintenance Log – Annie” & “Auto – Maintenance Log – Michael”. I think it is nice that we have it setup so it is shared reference material, so that way if Michael ends up taking my car in for work or I take his, we both will always have access to each other’s information.
The template is setup to contain the following information at the beginning of the note:
I had a separate note in my personal “Reference” Evernote notebook with just my car license plate number. Once I realized that it would make more sense to keep it with the other car reference material, I deleted that note.
Below the general information section, the template guides you to record the following pieces of information each time there is work done on the car or any car-related activity occurs:
It takes just a few minutes to fill out this information, and it is so useful to have in a simplified list. After I scanned in the papers I had from work done on the cars, I just saved each document below this template. You can also insert a line into a notebook in Evernote. This is probably not necessary, but I did it just to create a clear distinction between each record.
A Bump in Empowerment
Having this information stored so handily in the Evernote app in my iPhone makes me feel empowered. The next time I go for an oil change or to get a new tire or other work done on my car, I will know exactly what I got the previous time and how much it cost. I am pretty clueless when it comes to car stuff, and I always feel suspicious that I am being up-sold something I really don’t need whenever I take my car to a car place. With this, I will be able to keep track of everything on my own terms, and won’t be at the mercy of the car mechanic to tell me what needs to be done on the car.
This project couldn’t have taken more than thirty minutes. I will admit that Michael had already created the blank template in Evernote months ago so I didn’t have to come up with that, and I didn’t really have that many documents to file since I had gotten rid of a lot of old paperwork from the glove compartment a long time ago.
Going forward, I will know exactly what to do with the papers I am handed from a car repair or maintenance shop, and will be prepared to answer any questions about the car maintenance history. I love that this project kind of just happened by accident yesterday while I was just trying to clear out a stack of papers. Sometimes getting organized isn’t as intimidating at it may first seem. Namaste!
image credit: Spoon Graphics