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.
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:
- Advice on how long to keep important documents. Guidance may differ worldwide, but try this for the USA and this for the UK.
- A magazine article by yours truly on Conquering Your Paper Piles.
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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