26 Topics, Serenity Project, Your Surroundings

Serenity Project 18: Purge That Paper

In a previous life, I was a Professional Organizer, working with clients to reduce clutter in their homes. One of the top struggles, it seemed, was paper.

Think about your linen closet (or airing cupboard, as we Brits might call it). It’s stuffed with towels, sheets and other sundries, right? A stack of six towels might take up about a foot of vertical space: that’s six decisions to keep or discard, none of them very complicated. But how many decisions are lurking in a 12-inch stack of paper? Potentially hundreds, each of them needing to be read, remembered, and considered. No wonder people let paper pile up.

Serenity Topic 18: Purge That Paper

My paper strife is not extreme. I have a filing system which works (and yes, it’s attractively labelled, thank you). Team Wiles happily receives most bills and statements electronically, and with just two of us in the household, we’re not too challenged by the have-you-read-this-yet syndrome.

Nonetheless, if I broaden my definition of paper I see:

  • A daunting number of books in my To-Be-Read piles.
  • Several magazines I’ll probably never get to.
  • Lots of magazine clippings of things I might want to buy, visit, ponder or enjoy again.
  • Oodles of writing notes (which until this topic were scattered around the house in different notebooks, but at least now lurk together in one place).
  • A weakness for buying pretty stationery and notecards, some of which I then decide are “too nice” to send to anyone.
  • And the stubborn pile of goodness-knows-what on “my” corner of the dining room table.

So, will you join me for this topic and tackle some paper? These resources might help you if you’re up for the challenge:

Incidentally, this is the time of year when shops love to persuade us that buying a new desk or some beautiful file folders is the fast route to getting organised. Don’t fall for this! While there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to some new containers, do this after you purge, never as the the first step. Otherwise these cute supplies become one more piece of clutter in your home.


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8 Comment

  1. Reply
    Martina
    September 5, 2017 at 2:31 am

    This post came at the perfect moment. Just yesterday I did a massive clearing up of correspondence, bills, and shredded 2/3 of the pile. I also recycled old papers and magazines and it felt really good. I go for a clear-out once a month: as I run my business from home, among the pile there was work stuff as well as home stuff, so lots of things to be filed or be dealt with.

    I occasionally throw away things that I should have kept… but, c’est la vie! It’s good to have “clear space” around me 🙂

    1. Reply
      Pauline
      September 5, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Glad I’m not the only one who needs to keep paper under control. And yes, it does feel really good when tackled!

  2. Reply
    Julie Valerie
    September 5, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    With one daughter off to her sophomore year in college, we just shuffled the contents (and people) of our house – resulting in a massive overhaul of four bedrooms and my office.

    It’s crazy to think I can “travel” with my office by simply taking my computer, but the physical space that I consider my office holds so much more! Paperwork, books, furniture … clutter!

    1. Reply
      Pauline
      September 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm

      May I suggest the clever part is in knowing what’s clutter and what is, in fact, treasure? Sounds like quite the upheaval at your place…

  3. Reply
    Jean | DelightfulRepast.com
    September 7, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Pauline, yes, I am joining Serenity Project 18! This came along at the perfect time. I have struggled for the past 6 years since closing a home-based business that I *had* to be super organized for. Since then my desk just becomes engulfed with stacks of paper, then I depile it … shampoo rinse repeat endlessly! I made a good start on what I decided to call the *final* depiling but then got derailed by a number of things, including illness. So I am “on hold” and then will make a fresh assault! And you are soooo right about not going out to buy a bunch of organizing stuff – I have everything I need.

    1. Reply
      Pauline
      September 7, 2017 at 9:16 am

      Jean, in my life as a Professional Organizer, one of my first “clients” was myself. These days, things do stack up a little more. I think you’re right to see this as a shampoo/repeat activity. Even with good intentions, from time to time a specific purge seems helpful.

  4. Reply
    April J Harris
    September 11, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Perfect timing, Pauline! We are just starting to tackle some of the piles of paper we have accumulated in our study and library. I found this post very encouraging and motivating. I know it’s definitely going to contribute to our serenity if we get rid of the piles of paper…and the associated decisions that come with them!!

    1. Reply
      Pauline
      September 12, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Yes, April, you’re definitely not alone in launching into some paper piles this week! I’m not sure how wise I’ve been to include photos in my purge, but so far my ruthless intentions are holding firm… Hope your piles are shrinking too.

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