Paper. What’s the big deal?

Paper. What's the big deal?How’s your spring clean going, fam?

I took last weekend off from working with my mom on her room reorganization project because she wanted to make some headway on her own! She’s been going through folders and folders of files, making hard decisions about what to keep and what to purge. Hard because, like so many of us, she’s got a fierce relationship with paper. On top of loving paper things, there’s also the pressure paper brings. Paper can be really sentimental! It also used to be really important. Remember the need for a paper trail? (I mean, it’s tax season, after all. Y’all know what I’m talking about!)

Now that so much of what we do is digitized, we have the option to streamline and get rid of the paper weight. (Like what I did there?) But, instead, many of us hold onto the information in two places–file cabinets (or, erm, piles) and digitally. Streamline, streamline, streamline!

Go paperless! Remember the paper sorting post? Did you make the list of first-class mail and bills that have paperless options? Take action and make the switch. Not giving that paper the chance to come into your home or office in the first place is the easiest way to clear clutter and save the headache of sorting yet another pile down the line!

Scan documents that you can’t access digitally and get rid of the paper. A family friend just told me she digitized boxes of old documents by scanning them herself! In my personal files, I have many rosters from acting classes with contact information that I don’t want to totally get rid of, and other such acting-biz sorts of things. Digitizing those will be my next personal file project! (What am I waiting for, you ask? I’m waiting to get this tax season completely behind me (like, when I pay what I owe today). Then I’ll reorganize and purge some of my financial files and cross my other file projects off my list!)

There are, of course, exceptions.

What do you do when you come across that letter your bestie sent from sleepaway camp, covered with margin doodles and all your in-jokes? The invitation to your prom? The last card a loved one sent to you? It’s fine to keep paper that is sentimental. But I ask that you do yourself a huge favor. If the memories are mixed, and the item feels like a weight on you, make the hard decision to let it go. You’re doing yourself a disservice holding onto things that cause you anguish and sadness — or even just neutral feelings.

I promise, your high school sweetheart who you haven’t spoken to in ten years won’t care if you ditch that love letter.

Your mom won’t hold it against you if you recycle a birthday card your uncle sent when you were 8. Paper has weight. Getting rid of the paper that holds heavy memories is not merely a symbolic act towards moving on, it’s taking action to let more positivity into your space. It is literally unloading baggage.

On the flip side, if you come across something that fills you with joy, find a way to honor it!

Consider framing it or giving it a place in a scrapbook or portfolio. Enjoy the things that bring you joy!

The act of sorting your stuff often brings many other tasks to light. Finding the missing screw, gluing a piece back on, giving a final wash to the clothes of bedding you’re ready to donate. In the world of paper sorting, this looks like framing a piece of artwork from a friend or making a scrapbook of cherished letters. As you sort you files, your shelves, your room, collect your favorites in a folder. (You will very likely continue finding things to add to it!) Figure out how you will honor these pieces and then get the frames up on the wall or the scrapbook put together! Don’t sabotage your hard work by making more piles that collect dust.

Honor the stuff you keep! Because at this point, you’re keeping it for a reason, right? Right.

| Next up, Stuff Sorting!! And how to stay sane while you rock it. |

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