I have a secret. Inside our office closet lives an untamed paper monster that has been growing (and moving around the country with us) for almost a decade. This monster has all of my notes from multiple university degrees for legs, eight binders of church music for it’s body, random paper from all types of life events for arms, and a filing cabinet of bills and bank statements for a head. The time has come to get rid of this monster once as for all.
To start tackling my paper monster (my #1 organizational goal of 2015), I decided to start with the lowest risk project. I organized the multiple binders of church music that my husband and I have accumulated over the last ten years. We were both members of a traveling Christian band and other church music ensembles for years. During that time we accumulated multiple copies of the same songs. This project was low pressure because I was not digitizing the songs and I did not need to make decisions about what the get rid of. I only wanted to remove the duplicates. For whatever reason, the perceived enormity of this task has meant that I have carted these binders through at least three house moves instead of taking the time to sort them. Now that it is done, I don’t know why I waited so long.
One evening, two glasses of wine, and 551 edited songs later, our music library has gone from two filing boxes to two binders. Here are a few take-aways from my paper organizing project that I will use as I continue to take on the paper monster:
- Keep track of what you are getting rid of. I have been doing this ever since taking the Edit-and-Forget It challenge. It feels incredibly good to complete a paper based project and know that I rid myself of 551 unnecessary items.
- Start with a manageable goal. I pulled all of the music out and realized that I could complete this task in one evening. I would have been totally discouraged if I had selected the filing cabinet as my first step towards taming the paper monster. If you need to, start with getting rid of old catalogues or phone books. Keep it simple.
- Have a plan. As I started alphabetizing my music, I realized that I needed a much larger surface area than anticipated. I ended up moving the entire operation part way through. Next time, I will make a more comprehensive plan before diving in.
The best thing about completing a project on the Journey to Simple is that it motivates you to take on the next project. I can’t wait to dive into the filing cabinet, my university notes, my accumulated business cards, and the rest of the paper pile. I am already feeling the freedom that comes from simplifying my paper trail.
What areas are you planning on simplifying in 2015? Please leave a comment below.