• Grrr . . . . I feel like a bad minimalist.

    One of the piles of paper on my desk right now
    One of the piles of paper on my desk right now

    Paper has taken over my life again. I have stacks of it in my office, the home office, and my kitchen – notes, receipts, documents to be filed for tax purposes, business cards, and probably a bunch of stuff I can recycle. It’s the one thing I don’t have control over in my life. I can stop buying stuff, but I can’t stop the paper traffic in my life. I can only minimize and manage it.

    I’ve been traveling a lot this year and it started piling up before I left town for The Undeniable Tour. I was so busy for the weeks leading up to the trip that everything that didn’t have to get done before the Tour got put in a pile to be dealt with when I got back.

    When I got back after being on the road for two weeks, I had piles of mail that arrived while I was away and everything I brought back from the road. Two weeks was a long time to be away from clients; I felt like I spent at least two weeks trying to catch up again. I somewhat got a grip on the day-to-day influx of paper (mail, business cards, receipts, bills) but I still had the piles from the previous weeks. And then I had to prep for my trip to speak at Ungagged in London so everything that I could put off until after I returned was put in a new pile.

    Bah! Too much paper around me!
    And don’t get me started on how bad my email inboxes are right now.

    In my early days of embracing minimalism, I gave myself a 30-day challenge of processing paper through my life in 24 hours or less. It was a great experience that took diligence but it gave me a clean workspaces. Clearing of my desk and counter and creating a de-cluttered environment helped clear my mind. I felt less anxious and distracted. It helped me see that I only need to do one thing at a time and trying to multi-task makes me feel insane.

    I need to be more disciplined about the paper in my life. It would be foolish to let it pile up all week, telling myself that I’ll take care of it over the weekend. That is total crap and I know it. Sometimes I’m so tired by the weekend that I don’t do anything but lay on the couch and watch movies between naps or I have events and activities that take up all my time. I think I need to think about paper like flossing my teeth – I don’t like doing it but it doesn’t take that long and the long-term effects are worth it. It’s definitely a suck-it-up-buttercup task.

    So what’s the plan? I have a good system for staying organized and mostly clutter-free when I chose to use it. I’ll have to have a conscious effort to get rid of the excess paper in my life and keep it that way. Thankfully I promised Rosie and myself that I’m not traveling this summer so I’ll have time to tackle this project and work on making it a habit. In regards to my email, I’m turning my inbox clean-out into a post for Attorney at Work so hopefully that will motivate me to get it done and stay aware of what’s is/is not working in the process so I can pass those lessons along to my readers.

    If you go through periods where your paper clutter gets away from you and you have to make it a big to-do to get un-cluttered, I’d love to hear what works for you. Likewise, if you’ve slayed this dragon, I’d love to hear any tips you an offer for how you stay paper clutter-free.

  • Simplify Simplify

    One of my goals for 2013 is to simplify and de-clutter my life. My life is busy but for the most part already simple in terms of where I spend my time. I want to turn my attention toward reducing the amount of excess stuff I have in my life.

    Regular Hangers
    Regular Hangers

    I started this project last year but I didn’t make as much headway as I would have liked. I managed to clean out my bathroom, jewelry boxes, and a few drawers. This year, I’d like to expand on that and clean out my drawers, files, books, and clothes.

    I realized I have a lot of paper around me like flyers from events I’ve attended, business cards from people I’ve met, magazines and newspapers I meant to read, and billing statements that come in the mail. I want to make a concerted effort to get rid of things I don’t need and to keep papers from piling up in the house. Instead I’m going to use or record the information I need and get rid of the paper version.

    Reversed Hangers
    Reversed Hangers

    A few years ago I did a major closet clean out where I tied a string around every hanger in my closet. When I wore a garment, I removed the string. Whatever still had a string on it at the end of the year was removed from my wardrobe. (Specialty items like fancy dresses and my snowsuit were exempt from this exercise.) I’ve since learned that the easier thing to do is to reverse all my hangers and flip them after I wear a garment. I’ve also created a checklist for my garments that are folded on shelves. Anything I don’t wear in 2013 won’t be with me in 2014.

    I admire the people who limit themselves to 100 possessions. It must be freeing to have to keep track of so little. I don’t think I’d ever want to do that, but I want to apply their dedication to simplicity to my life.