My evil scheme is working. I’ve turned into a sorting/purging/shredding/archiving machine, sort of. This small embryo of a habit has taken on a life of its own, without my having to do much. The trick is to keep it small, time-limited, and daily, or it turns into a monster, the very thing that defeated me in the first place.
Back in the Vortex, I went through this process of purging files (and possessions) in order to move to Ohio. At that time I had access to an actual shredder, which I proceeded to overload and bust. (No, not with the possessions.) I’m sure my brother was not amused. Now I just do it by hand. I make a pretty mean shredder.
My incentive now is having less volume of crap to move to TN. Longer term, it’s to downsize for the sake of my survivors. I’m determined never to repeat what my parents left behind through negligence, assuming someone else would get to it.
If you’ve been following my sordid drama, I had discovered a nightmare of chaos just under the surface façade of normalcy in my parents’ house. It took me years of excavating and bulldozing through mountains of assorted, scattered papers, everything from vital documents to old shopping lists just mixed up together throughout the house, to get to the bottom of it all. And that was just the papers. It was literally an archaeological dig. But moving right along…
I’ve moved so many times that I travel a bit lighter these days (partly by “donating” items to other family and friends, to which my poor son can attest). It also helps to be confined to a tiny, shared apartment, and having little spending money. I’ve learned to be more resourceful at reusing, repurposing, recycling, and all those nifty R-words, but things tend to re-accumulate without even trying, like dust.
Saving documents—it’s like a mental disease. The what-if disease. Vanquishing this disease has something to do with my order vs. chaos principle. I don’t know much about scientific chaos theory, but personally I don’t put much stock in chaos resolving itself into some sort of order and purpose, all by itself. If you let stuff accumulate, it will take over the universe, and suck you down into a black hole, or some such thing. It’s the L42 Chaos Theory. ©™ 😉
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Anyway, back to earth… so here’s what you do with incoming papers (assuming you still have any literal paper, which most people still do), going forward. (This principle also applies to electronic docs, to some extent.)
First, have a basket near the front door to catch all incoming mail and papers. NO OTHER SURFACE ALLOWED.
Position the PAPER RECYCLE box or bag right near it for junk mail to go directly into.
The trick is to anchor all other surfaces with decorative or functional items which indicate: NO PAPERS OR MISC. GO HERE! This must be consciously enforced at first, but eventually will become habit.
Next, have trays (etc.) strategically located nearby to subdivide into the following categories:
*TIME-SENSITIVE ACTION required, where your bills and replies required go to be processed, and
*OTHER categories ready to be processed/filed/disposed of. This can be one or multiple slots.
To keep it simple, I’ll stop here for now. The above is a big one to master (and enforce) at first. In another post, I’ll list where to file which type of documents, and when to shred them. Again, this assumes you still have some physical documents and files, which most people still do. I’ll leave the electronic filing to the experts. (Mine are all over the place, and I’m not even going there. They take up much less space!)
That’s my PSA for today. Hope it helps! I don’t take credit for most of this, I’ve learned much of it from others. A little preemptive prevention, repeated daily, will save you a lot of overload later.