Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My "to file" file

Recently, I wrote about one of my issues with paper clutter, magazines. (You can see it here.) Today, I'm going to write about another issue I have with paper, filing. I am terrible about filing. For as long as I can remember I have had a place where I kept papers that I needed to file. Maybe I didn't feel like filing them at that moment or I thought it would take too long to file them right then or I didn't have a place to file them or I didn't know where to file them. For what ever reason I put off dealing with that paper. I tend to be a procrastinator & a piler so it's no surprise that I often ended up with a pile of papers that I didn't deal with for a long time.

I have come a long way with my paper management. For example, I used to have a place where I would pile mail until I finally decided to sort it. Then, when I would sort it I would often make a pile of mail that I needed to deal with later. Now, I sort the mail as I am bringing it in the house and I no longer have that pile. I need to overcome my filing issue in a similar way.

My "to file" file has taken various forms over the years. I used to keep these paper baskets

in my kitchen as a place for my husband and I to coral our papers that needed action. They took up too much space on the counter, filled up too quickly and my husband never went through his. I moved them into the office. I stopped trying to get my husband to use my paper management system but still used them for my "to file" papers. I would periodically go through the basket and file the papers I knew what to do with, but there were always some things that lived there because I didn't know what else to do with them. Last year, I had this file carrier

in my kitchen. It held several files and one of them was a "to file" hanging file folder. The carrier wasn't doing what I wanted and was taking up too much space. I decided to stop using it so I took the hanging file folder and put it in the basket in the office. I had never filed my "to file" papers. That wasn't really the point of the hanging file folder. One of the problems with a "to file" file is that when I am looking for a piece a paper I need I often have to rummage through this huge "to file" pile. I finally decided it was time to empty the file out and never use it again.

The picture of the baskets above is what my "to file" looked like last week.

First, I sorted into piles.

One pile was easy, it was papers that I knew had a place in an already created file. These are the papers I am planning on filing immediately in the future. The way I look at it now is that it wouldn't have taken significantly longer to put them in their appropriate file than just putting them in the basket.

Another easy pile was the recycle pile.

The less easy piles were kids papers and random/miscellaneous papers.

At the end I was left with these things

I just didn't know what to do with them. These are some of the things that had taken up permanent residence in that basket.

First, the chalkboard. I think my daughter got this a couple years ago from my mother-in-law. It was probably from some kind of dollar store. I remember letting my daughter play with it once and then never again because the chalk dust got everywhere. I don't know why I was keeping it. Would the chalk dust falling off not bother me in the future? Would, somehow, chalk dust not fall off it when my daughter was older? No. I still couldn't throw it away, I put it in my donate pile.

Then there was the bag of parts to something. I can not remember what they are for. Obviously, they are not that important. If it has been so long that these shelves (or whatever) were put together that I can't remember them, chances are good I either won't need the extra parts or won't remember I even have them. I still couldn't pitch them so I moved them into the garage. At least it is a more appropriate place for them.

The little Home Owner's Diary, was given to me by my aunt around the time I got married. I have not filled it out completely. I put a couple paint chips in it, that's about it. I still couldn't throw it away, just in case I do decide to fill it out (I know, not likely.) Since I couldn't part with it I filed it in my house file. (At least that's a better place for it.)

The Anne Geddes birthday & anniversary book was a gift. One of those things that I filled out one time because someone gave it to me but I didn't really want, need or use it.

In the end, this is what my "to file" file looked like.

To avoid this problem in the future, I am planning on filing papers in their appropriate files immediately. I realize some of the things I mentioned above are going to probably have to be dealt with again (like the parts bag and the empty Home Owner's Diary) but at least this was a step in the right direction.

I'm linking up to A Bowl Full of Lemons weekly challenge.

1 comment:

  1. I am a huge paper piler too. It's one of my "dirty little secrets" lol I have been known to grab the whole pile and plop it on my dryer in the laundry room when company is coming and there it sits...forever. Good for you for trying to get it organized. I'm hoping to finally get a good system together...someday. That's my procrastination showing up. lol