If there is one place where my life is most disorganized, it's paperwork. I have been subscribing to the "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" philosophy, which works just fine, until you need to locate something important, like say paperwork to remortgage or window contracts to nail Home Depot. We've always managed to find the document, but disorganization has led to frustrating, desperate searches, when precious weekend time should be reserved for movies and sleeping in.
I've been shoving all manner of paperwork into the upstairs hall closet for years. We now need to reclaim the storage space and get 2012 paperwork located for tax time. I decided that today was the day for a massive culling of the paperwork and so far (as I am only taking a short break), I've accumulated four bags of paperwork trash and one bag to shred.
Most of the discarded paperwork falls into two categories.
The first, old school paperwork. I don't know why I felt the need to hang on to decades old History class notes or creative writing that isn't all that great. I junked nearly all of it. On the upside, I found some short stories that I had forgotten about and feel a renewed sense of inspiration to work on my fiction writing.
Second, my mom's paperwork. My mom passed nearly five years ago and I left much of her paperwork untouched. She was an obsessively organized person and I just always thought that if she kept it, it must be important. Well, today, I finally opened her meticulously organized binders and realized that most of it had zero bearing on my life. She had stack of recipts from the 80's! I have a whole bag of old mortgage paperwork and stock info that all needs to be shredded. My mom never got on board with doing her bills online, so she filed every single bill, often in it's own plastic sheet and saved them in binders. It looked nice, but was really just unnecessary. So much paperwork! I got rid of eight giant binders of her stuff and whittled it down to only the essential documents.
Getting rid of the paperwork is a load off of my shoulders. I was beginning to feel like Sara Cynthia Sylvia Stout.
I still have more culling and then I need to figure out the best way to organize, especially a way to organize in-coming paperwork. I need to make a habit of keeping it organized as it comes in, so this problem doesn't get out of control again.
When searching for ways to organize paperwork, I came across the blog, Crap I've Made. Besides having a catching blog title, the author, Char, has some great organizational ideas. I think that her idea of organizing bills/paperwork into a sturdy file box, might be what I try in 2013. Check it out.
The bigger picture will include scanning important documents into Evernote. As with the family photographs, I've become increasingly worried that something might happen to an original document and I want to get everything squared away.