Let’s Get Tidy
It’s everywhere. Everyone you know is Marie Kondo-ing every square inch of their lives. No closet or junk drawer is safe! I totally drank the kool-aid and went through my possessions after binge watching the series last weekend. The next room I’ve got to tackle is my little office. This is where I keep my samples and ready-to-ship product as well as a personal file drawer—aka holding cell for the piles of bills and records that I’ve allowed to accumulate over the past several years.
I like to be organized and have systems for most every other area of my life, so I’m somewhat embarrassed at how out of order this little corner of my house (and life) has become. So, here’s to tackling paper organization once—and hopefully—for all. The following are four tips that I’m letting guide my process:
1. Create sustainable systems.
One of the reasons it’s easy for my piles of paper to get out of control is that I just that—there are too many piles. I know I’ll have the energy to tackle the organization of my papers if I’m better about making upfront decisions about whether or not I need to keep things and where they should ultimately “live” should I deem them keep-able. Or, if they just need to live with me for a little while until they’ve served their purpose, they’ll be put in an appropriate location for that to happen.
If I’m going through a stack of mail and I know most of the papers belong in the recycling bin, I’ll go ahead and take them there. If there are wedding invitations or other pieces that need a response, I’ll make a pile for “to-dos.” This pile can live on my desk. When I’ve send in reply cards, entered details into my calendar, paid my bills, I can make another trip to the recycle bin to get rid of papers I don’t need. Invitations usually make their way to the fridge where I display them until after the event has passed.
The key to organization in this area is making decisions quickly and regularly without just letting papers accumulate and to have distinct places where things go in the now, then, and later. For example:
Paper files on my desk for things in limbo
On the fridge with magnets for upcoming events
Boxes on my shelf for stationery and to-be-sent cards
Paper keepsake boxes for the few and special things I want to preserve
2. Allow Containers to Contain
Bins and boxes are meant to help curate. Whatever fits in them is what should live in them. If papers are bulging out of my file folders so that the drawer won’t close, it’s time to go through and see what stacks I don’t actually need anymore. If my bin of handwritten letters is filled to the overflowing, I can probably go through and remove some of the old postcards from when I worked as a camp counselor over ten years ago. The confines of a container should dictate more editing—what should go and what should stay.
3. Have Clear Priorities
I’m a serial purger. Just ask my husband. He’s constantly trying to rescue things from my Goodwill piles and told me that my watching Tidying Up was like someone with an eating disorder saying they need to go on a diet (yikes).
For those of us that love to rid our homes of all the stuff, let’s remember that it’s important to hang on to a few of the sentimental things that will serve us and our families down the line. Like my “about” page reads: Will our grandkids be reading our emails when we’re long gone? Doubtful. But, they may love spending an afternoon going through the letters we used to write each other or the Christmas cards that we sent out each year. I don't want to erase my family history, but instead leave a purposeful paper trail of the milestones and moments that matter (while purging the ones that don’t).
4. Preserve Purposefully
With that said, I want to find ways to preserve those meaningful papers that I’ve decided to keep. I love the idea of framing wedding invitations and birth announcements. This year, I ordered a couple of extra Christmas cards so that I could paste one into my daughter’s Promptly journal with a note about our first year as a family of three.
It’s interesting being in the business of paper in this digital age. And for someone who gets serious a thrill from emptying a stack of papers into the recycling bin, the irony is not lost on me. The point is not to delete the past with our papers. It’s to ruthlessly edit what we keep so that we can leave a *thoughtful* paper trail for our future selves and our families.