Having finally admitted that my paper mountain was getting out of control, I decided that I had to do something about it. It would have to be in a piecemeal fashion as I never have more than 30-60 minutes to spend at one time.
Thanks to Wiertz Sébastien for use of this photo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/wiertz/5624281846/
To start with, I got all my various piles together and made up my mind that it was a ‘one touch’ exercise. In other words, I had to decide what action was required to get rid of a piece of paper on the pile and then carry out the WHOLE action. For example, if I needed to phone the mortgage company, then I would do that and then also file the paperwork if needed. In this way, I was not creating another subfile of filing or shredding. Occasionally I did have a very small pile but I made myself go and file or shred on a regular basis.
I have been doing this, once or twice a week, over a few weeks now and, amazingly, I am starting to get to the bottom of the pile. I have even managed to add several items to our paper recycling, including several articles on how to use numbering and tabs on Word that I had printed out from a website. I was going to keep them (!!) but then saw that I had printed the articles in August 2007! Since I had not got round to reading them for the last 6 years (and now use the new version of Word anyway), I decided to let them go. And they have been in a file on my desk all that time.
It is odd how we all keep things for ages that we never even look at or use, yet find it hard to get rid of, even dedicated declutterers!
What have you held on to and never used? Be honest!
Working part-time concentrates the mind wonderfully – you have to work smarter to ensure that you get everything done and remember your work priorities when you return to the office after an evening spent on cooking, homework and all things household or a day off doing more or less the same.
I rely on my Outlook folders to help me keep track of live projects and as a reference tool as required. However I was finding them harder and harder to use and maintain and finally worked out why. They reflected a large project I worked on last year rather than my current smaller projects.
So I decided that it would definitely be worth using some of my precious work time to declutter and streamline my folder system so that it was less cumbersome and easier to use. I particularly wanted fewer levels so that I could find and file emails without having to open one or two sub-folders.
Realising that I may still want to refer to some of the older emails from time to time, I firstly created a ZArchive folder that now appears as the last main folder in my Inbox. I then created some subfolders based on the previous file structure but with the word Archive at the end so that I didn’t get confused. Eg ProjectA became ProjectAArchive. I am also using ZArchive for any emails that I am not sure whether to finally delete or not.
I have budgeted about 20 minutes a day to work on this and have stuck to this so far. Whole projects have been moved to ZArchive and I now have one level less of subfolders making it much easier to get to previous emails. Along the way, I have found some interesting emails that are useful for current projects as well as whole subfolders that can be deleted (I so love the delete button). It definitely counts as a decluttering process!
I am already feeling the benefits of my new streamlined Inbox as it now reflects my current requirements rather than those of a year or more ago. My plan is to review ZArchive in 3 months – I will put a reminder in my Outlook calendar – and see if I am ready to delete more old emails and folders.
So now that Spring is almost here – well, we can always hope – give your Inbox a spring clean!
Do tell us how you get on.
I went up for my second loft quick declutter today. (Or loft fishing as I like to call it).
Remember it is a game so it is not meant to be ordeal by dusty boxes and dead wasps (although I did find one or two today).
I like to go up without a plan and today decided to open a blue plastic storage box right by the top of the loft ladder that I have noticed every time I go up there but could not remember what was in it.
Bravely, I lifted the lid to find….. children’s books! They were my son’s that he had grown out of but that I thought my daughter would like to read when she got older which is about now! In fact, she has just started reading ‘The Edge Chronicles’ and there were at least 6 in the same series up there. Neither child wanted the Charlie Bone series that were also there so they went in the charity bag. That left 2 Artemis Fowl books which are a bit old for my daughter but I will put them in the family bookcase rather than the loft.
This means that I now have an empty box in the loft which is great. I will go through a cardboard box next and hopefully will be able to move anything to keep into the plastic box and recycle the cardboard one. Less clutter, more floor space. Hurrah!