Sunday, March 18, 2012

Paper Sorting

I've been reading Julie Morgenstern's When Organizing Isn't Enough; SHED Your Stuff, Change your Life.  She doesn't deal with paper clutter much in the book, but as I lay awake last night I thought about applying her "10-20%" rule to my piles of paper.

An hour ago I took a 5" pile of paper at random from a box sitting beside my desk, and sorted it into what turned into five piles:
  1. Treasures.  This was the key pile, that was supposed to be a pile of things that made me think "oh, there that is!" when I saw them, but it did get overrun a bit with things I *thought* should be treasures.  More practice is needed!
  2. Financial papers that are straightforward to file, that I can ask my husband to deal with.
  3. Papers I thought I *should* want - that would normally go into a "to file" pile that would get shuffled somewhere else to collect dust for another year or two - but that didn't excite me.
  4. Stuff to go elsewhere; empty file folders and oddly, a book that was in the pile.
  5. Recycling.
So, how did my percentages stack up?
  1. The Treasures pile clocks in at 1 3/4", or 35%.  That's well over the 10-20% I was looking for.  This was heavily affected by a file folder from our 2006 Yukon trip, which I couldn't bring myself to disassemble, and a file of calendars that I have a soft spot for.
  2. I was surprised, but pleased, that the financial papers only accounted for 1/2", or 10%.  I guess I've been fairly good about diverting those and filing them.
  3. The "should" pile was exactly the same size as the treasures file, oddly.  I was surprised that there is a lot of teaching, coaching, and Weight Watchers material in it.  I will sleep on it, but am planning to just toss it all in the recycling in the morning.
  4. An easy 15%.
  5. Another 15%, not so easy to sort, but easy to toss.
I'll call that a successful trial run... now it's time to consider how I'm going to make 1.75" of room in the filing cabinet for those treasures!