Monday mornings

Monday. The bedroom is once again left looking like there was a cat and dog fight staged in there. Depending on how things at work go, the room may get more unrecognizable as the work week progresses.

At the office, because I’m still shaking off the lethargy from sleeping my head off much of the weekend, Monday morning’s dedicated to doing non-mental tasks. Like, working on my overdue liquidations. Ugh.

Doing liquidations are the only time at work when I despair for an assistant. I loathe going through receipts. I don’t have the patience for recalling what official business I did to have incurred those teeny papers, or for recording receipt numbers, pasting receipts chronologically, disaggregating the amounts into account categories- transportation, meals during travel, supplies, etc.- and into appropriate account codes. It’s basically like doing laundry. It takes up the entire day and more often than not two to three days. I put off the task and before long there’s a mountain of receipts staring at me, the sight of which makes me loathe the task even more. A vicious cycle.

Once, traveling with a former boss, I noticed that right after he pays for the toll fee he’d put away the receipt neatly into what looked like a money clip. By the end of the trip, all the receipts have been chronologically ordered which meant less work for his assistant and ultimately facilitative of a timely refund. Cool, I thought, if he could do that I should too. But I never did come around to it.

Transportation receipts, I shoot them into whatever receptacle I was holding and then I’d forget about it. By the time I’m actually on my liquidation, I had to look into all my bags and reconstruct my days and weeks to help me identify what receipt was for what official trip or business. Fortunately, my mind is still sharp at this sort of recall. On the other hand, putting off the task meant some receipts getting lost, perhaps it was because I thought the paper’s scrap and promptly threw it. Once, I threw away a 500-peso bill by mistake. Another time, I thought the 500-peso bill I was holding was a 20-peso bill. I handed that to the taxi driver and got off. The driver shoot off like the devil.


I’ve been doing liquidations 25 years now. Nothing has changed. The system, I mean. I did a proposal on going paperless/records management for my former employer which the head of office enthused about, but I’m not sure how that went in reality. Others need to be convinced, foremost, accounting people. Who are the geniuses who read mountain loads of filed receipts? Auditors. They’re the only people these papers are useful for. Once the audit’s done, the next problem is storage and more storage. This implies that compliance standards need to adjust in the face of modern technology and environmental challenges. How to incorporate adjustments without compromising quality standards? is the challenge for all professions.

Consistent with the advocacy on waste and climate change, development and aid agencies should lead in process enhancement by making the paper-less workplace possible. Are all those receipts necessary? It may want to look at other pioneering development agencies and the private sector for ideas.


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