don’t organize it

Almost every day someone tells me, proudly, that he has 20 years’ worth of paycheck stubs, but they’re all organized in file cabinets. Or she has every piece of artwork her kids ever made, but they’re all organized in boxes.

What I want to say to these people is this: Not everything merits being “organized.”

Some things don’t even need to be kept. And they certainly don’t need to be alphabetized, put in reverse chronological order or sorted by color.

Before you spend money on bins, boxes or furniture to allow you to organize your stuff, consider why you’re holding onto it. If you have sentimental feelings about something, keep it. Display it or store it so you can look at it periodically. Don’t pack it up and shut it away in the attic or basement.

If you need to keep documents for financial or legal reasons, keep them only as long as the statute requires. You don’t need to curate receipts and bills; they are only staying with you for a short time.

I understand that some people feel a measure of comfort when they can micromanage their paperwork; what concerns me is when those same pieces of paper never make it into storage. Don’t spend your time “organizing” these things; use the time to put stuff away. The goal is to find your taxes from four years ago, not to pinpoint a particular paper.

The hard lesson in all this is knowing that good enough is good enough. Instead of creating elaborate systems and processes, put things where you’ll find them. Then you can spend the rest of your time with people you care about, doing things you enjoy.

Sunday is Mothers Day. If you are thinking of buying your mother a gift, do something nice for her instead. That nice thing could be helping her remove some clutter from her life.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to don’t organize it

  1. deelocklin says:

    This is excellent advice! I listen to my gal pals bragging about still possessing every single medical and dental receipt from their now adult children’s visits. Beyond immunizations and basic facts regarding any major illnesses, who needs this stuff? If one feels the need for detailed record keeping, buy a scanner and store documents electronically!

  2. Thanks, Dee! You’re right about medical paperwork. There is only so much you need to keep, whether it’s paper or electronic. The idea of scanning everything just creates clutter on your hard drive, though. Either way, I stand by the message in The Clutter Book: The only reason to file is to retrieve.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s