Simplified 365: The Office - Day 2: Paper Systems

Simplified 365: The Office - Day 2: Paper Systems

One of the most common queries I get is “Hi, can you help me with systems for my paperwork?”.  I always know the person is buried under a mountain of paperwork and just dying for that one magic system that will keep everything managed and perfectly organized from now on.  

That system does exist, but it’s not nearly as glamorous and magical as most people hope.  So what does this system look like? It looks like less.  Less paper, less email. We have too much and there is no magical system that can allow you to manage a medical office’s worth of paper on an already depleted, time crunched schedule. If you can see the truth in that, here’s what you need to do:

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Decluttering vs. Organizing

If you're curious as to why this home organizer is always talking about decluttering, not organizing, it's because there are 2 ways to get organized:  Own less stuff or buy more shelving and bins.  

I'll let you decide which is more attractive.

It's just physics. There is only so much storage space in our home and only so much attention we can give to our stuff.  We all flow between numerous roles everyday:  Employee, employer, parent, child, sibling, friend.  All of those roles take energy and at the end of the day, there isn't much bandwidth left to deal with stuff. 

Stuff is organized if it has a specific home.  A place on the shelf, a spot in your drawer.  A place that it returns to after each and every use.  Everything else is clutter. The thing is, as new stuff come into the home, new homes for those items have to be created.  If an old item doesn't leave when a new item comes in, at a certain point, shelves, closets and garages became overstuffed.  

I've only worked with 2 people who really, truly did not know how to organize.  They had tons of empty storage space and not much stuff.  The other 300+ people I've worked with knew how to organize.  They were just overwhelmed by the volume of stuff in their homes and needed a helping hand to dig through it, find the treasures and let go of the rest.

To be clear, there isn't anything inherently wrong with "stuff".  It's a problem when it's causing you problems.  When you're frustrated, embarrassed and angry.  When you can't find something even though you "know it's here somewhere".  This is why I harp on decluttering before organizing.  No number of shiny bins from the container store will fix your physics problem.  If there's too much stuff, there's just too much.  Once we have the space to give everything you love a home, THEN we can get a few shiny, pretty bins to house the stuff.  

If this makes sense to you, please hit the little <3 button below or share it with someone who could benefit!  

Baseball Cards, Collectibles, and the "F"-its

In the face of the rental market from hell, going tiny is looking more and more appealing.  We received a 26% increase last year and are facing a similar increase this November. 

To wit, I've been going through boxes of old "stuff" from my childhood in preparation for downsizing.  Nothing is safe.  Nothing is sacred. 

Most of it is stuff that's been in boxes for 25+ years.  Collectible holiday Barbies (Save them! They'll be worth something! Not!), baseball cards from the years fondly referred to as the "Junk Wax" era, horse figurines from a time before I had a real horse, plaques and awards. 

I preach not having stuff.  But still it persists, 10 66qt boxes of it. So I'm right there with you.  When there are things in your possession that aren't bringing you joy, it's overwhelming. Weekends spent carting bins from my "garage" in my family's shed to my living room. Evenings sorting the "stuff". Mornings before work running bags to Goodwill. 

Sorting through a past of consumption sucks, but the piles do go down.  The "F-its" kick in and the desire to keep the stuff fades.  F-it.  Out it goes. One drawer, one bin, one collection at a time. 

Don't think of it as one big project, break it down into little mini-projects.  Sort through one drawer or container of utensils at a time, not the whole kitchen.  Sort one shelf on your bookcase, not all of your books. 

Remember why you're doing this.  For me, it's about not allowing the amount of stuff I have dictate the amount of living space I need.  I'd rather be nimble and able to move to a smaller apartment when our rent goes up.  What's you're reason?

Less stuff...

...more life

...more time 

...more money

...more sanity?

&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; Why? Why do I still have this stuff?

          Why? Why do I still have this stuff?