Attacking my paper clutter


If you follow FlyLady, you may know that her focus this month is paper clutter. She suggests taking 15 minutes at a time to tackle a small pile of paper – a drawer, a file, a box – and to determine what needs to be shredded and what needs to be kept.

I’ve been bogged down since I got home with a few different kinds of paper:

Bills to pay. I set up everything on automatic deduction before I left… or did I? It’s funny how many once-a-year things like a Costco membership or AAA come up unexpectedly.

Bank statements to reconcile in Quicken. I know David thinks that using Quicken is a waste of time, but I like to know where my money is going. I have been operating on a Quicken-backlog basis for about five years, but I may actually be seeing the light at end of the tunnel.

Stuff to file. This pile grows and shrinks depending on how productive I have been lately, but it seems to be a never-ending job.

Euro-Trip memorabilia. This is contained in a single box right in the middle of the office floor. David has been tackling it bit by bit, recycling the “Why did we save this?” and the “Do you even know what this is from?” stuff.

Other memorabilia. I’m really trying to cut back, but the dang scrapbooker in me still likes to save.

Plans and Hopes and Dreams. This is the stuff that gets out of control easily: pictures of rooms I love, templates for organizing schedules and cleaning routines, things I read and want to save, Very Important Directions (such as how to remove stains or when to plant tulip bulbs), and the like. Information and inspiration, all piled together in dishtubs, waiting to be remembered and sorted and put to use.

Last night, I worked on the “Bank statements to reconcile in Quicken.” I am really burning through those!

It felt good. I told myself I was going to work on it for 15 minutes, and I ended up going strong for over an hour. The best thing about it is the commitment I now have – thanks to Freedom Filer! – to only saving papers for two years. So all the newly reconciled statements from 2007 and 2008 have become fodder for the Shred-It guys. Whoo hoo!

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful for my sister. She is an amazing woman, an amazing writer, an amazing mother, and an amazing friend.

I’m also grateful, of course, for the photo by Muffet.

If you want a “Before and After,” you’ve got to have a “Before”

We’ve had a night filled with cleaning and sorting and purging.  (Does anybody need any gift bags?)

I really need to tackle the office.  Do you remember those stories of kids who share a room and – when they get in a fight – one draws a line down the middle of the room, making “My Side” and “Your Side”? Well, that’s pretty much the situation in the office.  I know I told you I don’t let people go upstairs, but I’ll let you take a peek if you promise to keep it a secret. Let’s look, first, at David’s side.  David likes to keep his desk neat. Actually, David likes to keep all flat surfaces neat. He can’t stand visual clutter.

David’s desk in all its pristine glory

Luckily, David sits with his back to my desk.

Lori’s desk is in there somewhere…

Don’t get me wrong: I like neat, clean surfaces as much as the next person. Unfortunately, I am what is known as “cyclically neat.”  This means that when I have the time and energy to get stuff done, I get things clean and shiny and beautiful. But when stressful times come, I tend to pile instead of file, and stash-and-dash instead of dealing with things properly. Then, when I am calm again, I have to dig myself out of the hole.

But wait! There’s more! You also get to see what the floor looks like on each side!

Can you guess whose side is whose?

Now that I have shown you the “Before,” I guess I’d better get to work.   I’ll keep you posted as soon as the “After” photos are ready.

What about you? Do you have a room that desperately needs an intervention? Let me know – we can work on them together.

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! for decent traffic and no lines at DEQ tonight, so both of us got our cars registered. Hooray!
  • I’m lighter! by about 40 gift bags, a bunch of ribbon, some tissue paper that had seen better days, and a giant plastic bag meant for wrapping a bicycle or something.

Paper grows on trees around here

Paper Weaving
Photo by FeatheredTar

David says that I have an addiction to wood products. If you can make it out of wood, I can’t get enough. You’ve heard about my many linear feet of books and my baskets and piles of magazines, but here today we shall be looking at wood products in their most basic form: paper.

Ah, yes. Paper, glorious paper. My old nemesis. Paper bands itself together into piles and sneaks up on me wherever it finds a flat surface, a spare dishpan, or a tote bag. I fight back, but there is only so much I can do before it has me surrounded. It comes in many disguises:

  • Newspaper. I have to cancel it when the pile I have not yet read (“processed,” really, much like the magazines, although I don’t usually save the clippings) exceeds the allotted space on the end table which holds it.
  • Clippings / Interesting stuff. Why, I ask you, do I save this? Why do I have file folders filled with every interesting thing I have ever read? Because I am in love, I tell you, with the written word, and parting with any words I found particularly good is tough.
  • Memorabilia. I have letters people have written me, dating back to grade school. Greeting cards, if they have more than just “Love, Aunt Jane” written in them. Homework Quinland has done. Classwork (read “busywork”) Quinland has done. Virtually every painting or drawing Quinland has done. Homework and artwork I did back in the day. Certificates, brochures, ticket stubs… you name it. All of it is earmarked as scrapbook fodder. As I have turned memorabilia into scrapbooks, I have found it easy to cull what will not fit and let it go, but not before that. Until I actually scrap the page, I feel a need to hang on to all that possibility.
  • Greeting cards. New ones. Unused. Ready to be sent. I do use them; I just don’t use them fast enough. I have slowed the influx tremendously, but the backlog is astounding. I have a cabinet in the office filled with nothing but greeting cards, and I have already donated a bunch to the local senior center.
  • Blank books. You know, journals, sketchbooks, etc. I have an entire drawer filled with them. (Why? Because back when I was a compulsive shopper, I found the particular kind I liked and bought all I could find in case I could never find them again. I don’t do that kind of thing any more. Most of the new and unused stuff you hear about here was bought at that time, not recently.)
  • Old bills and receipts. I am slowly culling out the seriously old stuff, though it is itching to be transformed into memorabilia. I started using the Freedom Filer system about three years ago and it has really helped me to let go of old receipts.
  • Stationery in general. Talk about paper in its most basic form – I’ve got it. Binder paper. Copy paper. Cardstock. Graph paper. Story paper with the space at the top for a drawing. Notepads (a desk drawer full). Fancy stationery with matching envelopes. Index cards (a shoebox full). Post it notes (a shoebox not-quite-full). Labels (another desk drawer full). File folders. Hanging file folders. Mailing envelopes.

Sigh.  I know that facing one’s problems is half the battle, but when I see it all in print like this, it looks simultaneously hopeless and ridiculous.  I guess I have to take heart and trust that this is a good first step.  I’ll release some paper clutter tonight and see if that feels better.

Do you have troubles with paper?  What is your clutter nemesis?

  • {Clutter} released: One big stack of cardstock and a stack of story paper from the playroom / soon-to-be scrapbook room.