Day 18

Welcome to Day 18!

Today we’re going to de-clutter:

– papers –

Gather up all your paperwork, and I mean everything. Bills, receipts, medical certificates, professional development training booklets – anything that you find lying around AND everything that you’ve got squirrelled away in folders. You’ll be surprised by what you can find tucked away in those plastic pockets, and it’s particularly timely to do this now before the end of the financial year. How much of this do you actually need to keep, how much have you forgotten you have and have never needed, and how much can you probably just save digitally rather than having to keep a paper copy in your home?

Please note: at this stage you should not be going through anything sentimental, so put those love letters aside – we’re talking strictly business at this point!

I used to copies of every receipt in a shoe box, but when I went through them, most of the receipts had faded to the point where I couldn’t even make out what I’d purchased, and many of them were well past their warranty date, if they’d even had one to begin with. Now I’m more selective not only about which ones I’ll keep – or just scan for reference – but also which ones I’ll accept at the point of sale to begin with. The less paper I have coming into my space, the better!

I also used to keep all my PD training booklets and readers from uni, and Marie Kondo’s advice really made an impact on this practice. She said that most people hold onto these thinking they can refer to them later for information, but if you haven’t actually put the training into practice, you’ll probably need to do the whole course again if you’re really wanting to apply it. I took that on board and let the training booklets and readers go. Whatever information I’ve retained from that session is what I’ve put into practice until today, and I can always go to the library if I want to read on up anything that I’ve studied. If I haven’t needed to refer to it until now, it’s unlikely I will in the future.

Sorting through our papers makes us re-evaluate not only how we handle and store paperwork but also what we choose to keep. A lot of our papers represent not just events in our past but also hopes or ideas for the future – a business we might have wanted to start, a hobby we might have wanted to develop, a person in our lives we might have been keeping information for. A big part of this decluttering process is letting go of what we think is important and shifting the focus to what we need now. To be surrounded by things that are relevant, useful and serve us in the present not only gives us a sense of control and order, but also give us as a clarity of focus to what we hope to have in our lives now and in the future.

I’m guessing that you’ll end up with a few empty folders by the time you’re finished this process – I thought I was on top of my game after years of decluttering and ended up with eight empty folders and one less box to have to move – so create that order to make it easy for you to file away important documents and give the rest of the folders away. If they’re still in good condition, they’re great for kids at school and means one less item parents have to knock off their booklist.

For all the paper that is too good to put out for recycling, you can put it through the printer again and potentially save yourself having to purchase reams of new paper in the process: re-use is always preferable to re-cycle.

If you haven’t already done so, put a no junk mail sign on your letterbox and contact the charities, stores and companies in your life who send you mail. So much can be done electronically these days, so if you never read that newsletter or look through that catalogue, just send them an email to request that they take you off their subscription list or simply send it to you electronically instead. One of the best steps to put the brakes on clutter is to limit what comes into your home in the first place. It gets easier with practice and you learn to identify what is useful and what is just waste in the making.

Best of luck!

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