Tame the Paper, from my Random Resolutions

Tame the Paper, from my Random Resolutions

paper clutterI know I am not the only one who’s been buried under an avalanche of layers of material formerly known as trees.  Daily, the contractor-of-the-week crams loads of things I may get around to in my mailbox.

Catalogs, I get catalogs. Loads of them. I could wallpaper my entire house with glossy photos of ridiculously overpriced fancy food, clothing designed for someone half my size and age, housewares that will never have a home in my house, furniture, baby toys (what?!), art, geeky gizmos, saddles, puzzles, electronics.  No Thanks! Ads and Coupons and Flyers?  Sheesh, if I need it, I’ll go online and find a coupon.  Thank you bunches, retailmenot.com.

Magazines?  Well, yes, I still get a few.  The ones from my insurance company, the local hospital, the auto club… seriously? Does anyone actually read those?  The worthy magazines (cooking and genealogy) – they have homes.  One or two in the car for those long waits at the Costco gas pump.  One lives right next to my tv-watching spot for the times when we enjoy an hour or so of something he likes.  And, yes, one within easy reach you-know-where.

Newspapers….. are you kidding?  We stopped getting that daily paper accurately deposited in the only puddle on the driveway forever ago.  The weekly local throwaway gets a quick glance to catch people I know and their kids, but thats it.

So this is what happens, and I bet it isn’t so different from what goes on at your place each day.  I pull out any actual correspondence from real people and read immediately.  I review the statements and put them in a pile, and the rest goes in a the stack that grows and expands and becomes more precarious as real life robs me of any free time to wade through all that stuff. Then, when company’s coming, the I grab the slithery mess and deposit it in a closet or in the laundry room or maybe the guest room.  Six months later, give or take, I wade through the pile, taking a moment to glance at each item before pitching it in the recycle bin. Puffed up pride of accomplishment fades rapidly when I notice that I forgot to use that 80% off coupon last September.  Nuts!

I do almost all of my “paperwork” online these days, just like you.  So why do I let this pile of periodicals clutter up my house and take up space much better used for yarn or fabric or art supplies or good books?


Time to Tame the Paper!

Hello, Shredder? Let me introduce you to Scanner. And to my right, Blue, the Recycle Bin and yes, Wastebasket.  Let’s get to it!

Here’s the new process:

  • Sort mail in standing next to the recycle bin, glancing and dropping as efficiently as possible.
    • If it says “standard mail”, don’t even open it – deposit directly into the blue bin.
    • Swear silently at the marketers who feel it is necessary to include non-recyclable items in their correspondence.  Fish that stuff out of recycle and deposit in the trash.
    • Don’t even open the catalogs. Toss them all. Well, except the ones that look interesting, those can go in another pile.
    • Open the bills.  Discard envelopes and any other junk they’ve included.  Set aside for review.
    • Mutter over the items that look just legitimate enough that I have to actually open them.  Then into the recycle they (almost always) go.
    • Credit card offers – put them in the bill pile.  Don’t worry, there’s a good reason. It’ll be clear in a minute.
    • Circulars and offers and all forms of weekly, monthly, daily ads…. straight to you-know-where.
    • Actual real correspondence from real people… well, duh.  Read it.  If it is worth saving, put it on that pile with the bills.
    • Those magazines that I do want to read?  Yup, put them in with the bills and credit card offers.
    • Take that other pile of catalogs and dump them en masse.  Remind myself of the tons of money I just saved.
    • Absolutely Do Not fish those catalogs out of the blue bin!

By now I have a full recycle bin and (hopefully) a smallish stack of paper that actually matters.  On to the next step.

  • Take what’s left up to my desk and…
    • Put the magazines where I’ll read them.
    • While I’m at it, take the magazines that are already there and fling them into the nearest recycle bin. Yes, I have recycle bins all over –  in the kitchen, by my desk, next to the crafting table.  And I fill them regularly.  The wanton wastefulness of our society is fodder for another post on another day.
    • Verify statement accuracy and that I’ve got online payment set up.  While I’m at it, make sure that I can access the information electronically.
    • No electronic payment possible?  Crap. Dig through the drawer where I keep things like checkbooks and telephone cords and forever stamps and that old palm pilot and envelopes and such.  Write the check, stuff, address, stamp and set aside.
    • Rarely, and I mean this hardly ever happens, dig out a card or stationary to respond to something sent to me by an actual person.  Put it with that one stupid check you had to write.  Have you noticed how much stamps cost these days?
    • Take that one annoying statement that doesn’t have an online or email counterpart, and scan it.
    • Shred everything except those envelopes I now need to mail. Now those credit card offers are itty bitty crosscut pieces of confetti. Take that, fraudsters!
    • Since I have to walk to the mailbox anyhow, write a quick note to great-aunt Vivian, who’s 102 now.  Or to mom, it’ll make her happy.
    • Now, shred everything else.
    • Take a quick stroll, deposit the envelopes in the box.

Look at me, full of productivity and virtuousness! Smile with me if you will. I’m fat with pride.

Wait. What? Repeat tomorrow?! Merde!




outline templateHow does this happen?

I swear I could have been born with an empty outline in my brain, complete with nice capital letters, roman numerals, and perfect five-space indents.   I like my things to be organized.  I want to be able to find it, whatever it is, right in the logical location where it belongs.  I do not see a problem with alphabetized spices (yes, mine are) or color coded closets. Yes, in fact I do have tupperware with identification of contents in my pantry.   I think my label maker is one of the most fun gifts I’ve ever received.

How, then, did I manage to spend years without getting my virtual world put together? Why is it, then, that I am overtaken by pell-mell gobs of virtual information, messages, posts, requests, emails, stuff, every single day?  How am I supposed to get things done?  Time to tackle the overload.

Today is virtual organization day.  I’m taking on email, to start.  No more will I depend on search to get to the one message that matters.    Yes, I know there are apps that help.  I’ve spent lots of hours checking them out, too many dollars buying them,  and more time than I should implementing them to find them not quite just right.  Back to the basics time!  Hello rules and folders and subfolders and unsubscribe and block.  You are my newest friends.

Perhaps it will have to wait a day or week or month or so, but I’ve already begun on Project Organize Recipes. And of course I have about fifteen thousand (yes, that many!)  photos that need face-tagging, date sorting, keyword adding.  Oh, and all those genealogy files, photos, dates and names?  Yup, they’re waiting for attention, too.  Can’t forget the various research projects… thank you Evernote for allowing me to organize all that stuff I collect as it comes in – so much faster that way!  But why oh why won’t my Evernote saved recipes just import without manipulation into my recipe software?  Nuts.

If I don’t answer, you know where to find me.

Tomorrow will be a more efficient day.