Today ends week six of Melissa Taylor’s online study, using my book “I Used to Be So Organized.” And the focus has been on paper – which is likely one of your biggest challenges when it comes to de-cluttering and organizing. No matter how much “they” say we are moving toward a paper-less society, “they” have yet to inform the rest of the world.
And so, if you are anything like me, it’s a daily challenge to keep paper from taking over my counters, desks, shelves and tabletops. Plus, am I the only one who has more books and magazines than one can read?
The key to paper management is having a “home” for everything. Whenever I have piles accumulate, it’s usually because I don’t know where to put all that paper. So I have to force myself to handle it one piece at at a time and make a decision about where it should “live.” Which usually involves another step, such as cleaning out old files to make room for the new ones or a trip to the store for supplies. That’s why it’s easier to leave things in piles.
But here’s the good news. Once you force yourself to think this through, and create homes for all that paper, maintaining it on a daily basis isn’t that hard. Of course, this isn’t a quick fix. But once you’ve pushed through, you’ll be happy you did.
We all deal with this challenge of pushing through when things get hard. We face it in so many areas of our lives. We are tired and decide to skip the gym today, which turns into a week, and then we are out of shape and it’s too hard to go to the gym. Or we are close to paying off a credit card bill, but decide to make a few purchases to celebrate. And where to put paper isn’t that different.
We all have these moments of critical decision making – although they are about such minor things that we dismiss their importance. I just have to get firm with myself when I want to take the easy route and let my piles grow. But the little decision I make are hugely important in getting my home and life under control.
So, let’s start by making a little decision. So this weekend for your “home” work, I want you to reduce some of the paper clutter in your home. Don’t try to tackle it all. You’ll only get frustrated and quit. But what about picking one type of paper and doing something about it? Here’s what I mean:
Magazines: Gather one bag of magazines to donate somewhere, and take them there. This might be a school art room, your local library or a women’s shelter.
Books: Get a cardboard box or paper bag and fill it with books you no longer need. Donate these book to a worthy cause in your area.
Greeting cards: Do you like to keep them? First I write the year on the back. Then I put them in ziplock plastic bags according to year and holiday (like birthday, Mother’s Day or Christmas). I write the event on the outside of the plastic bag with a sharpie market and store the bags flat in a memory box in my closet. I do this for everyone in my family. If you don’t keep them, then collect them and donate them to friends who are crafters.
Phone numbers and addresses on little slips of paper: Collect them all and enter them into your paper address book, Outlook or whatever digital contact manager you use.
Business cards: I love my Rolodex for business cards. My Rolodex has paper inserts with slits in them, and I just tuck the business card in the slits.
Scrap paper: If you’ve got paper that’s only printed on one side, consider printing a draft of something on the other side. Or cut into quarters, staple in the upper left corner, and make your own scratch pads.
Let’s expand this conversation. What types of paper are accumulating in your house? If you are stuck and need some fresh ideas, post a comment with your paper problem. If you have a solution, please post a reply. Or, if you’ve got a creative way to reduce the paper clutter in your home, share you idea.
In the past weeks I have absolutely loved how so many of you have responded to each other, with encouragement and great ideas. Let’s keep this going. To sweeten the pot, I’ve got a giveaway to offer. A few months ago, a very sweet reader, Christine Soncarty, donated a lovely organizing utility tote for me to give away. She’s an independent consultant with “Thirty-one,” a company offering the most adorable bags and totes.
The tote is in the Harvest Floral design with 5 exterior patch pockets, 2 mesh pockets with elastic top at sides. It’s approximately 10.25″H x 15.5″W x 6.5″D.
To be entered to win, please post a comment by Sunday July 15 at noon PST. You don’t have to have a problem or a solution, you can just say “I’m drowning in paper and school’s about to start and then it will be worse!” Or something like that. I’ll select a winner at random and announce her on Monday. And thank you, Chris, for your generosity!
If you are reading this in an email, please click here to be take to my blog to leave a comment. If you hit reply, I’ll enjoy your thoughts, but I can’t enter it in the giveaway. (sorry)
Thanks so much for joining me today.
In His love,