11 pounds. That’s how much paper was in the box labeled, “To Be Shredded.” That didn’t include the 2 kitchen size trash bags (13 gallons each) full of old papers I threw away. Do you know what’s better than Office Depot shredding paper for you at 99 cents per pound? Your city doing it for FREE. Did you know that several cities around the country host free shredding days in April to coincide with Tax Day? Google it and save yourself some money! Lucky me, ours happened during my March/April de-cluttering challenge. Sure, I could buy a shredder, but I’ve gone through 2 of them so far and they always break on me. I also don’t want to store the darn thing. For me, it’s worth it to spend a few bucks 2 times a year to shred the important stuff at the store. The rest can be recycled or tossed.
Benny used to ask me where something was by saying, “which Wal-Mart sack is it in?” He was only half-joking. Paper in all forms is my downfall. I’ve been recovering for quite some time, but went from shoving it in sacks to piling it in stacks. Sadly, I’m still a piler determined to be a filer. Embracing my “I don’t need to keep everything” attitude for 2011 is helping. There are rules like saving tax returns for 7 years, and receipts and warranty information for the life of your appliances, etc., but do I really need the receipt telling me how much is left on my Starbucks card? Or 5 copies of a magazine article I meant to mail to some friends but never did? I won’t even talk about the big stack of Christmas cards we’ve received over the past 18 years. I had no sane reason for saving that stuff, so before my family could nominate me for that hoarder show on TLC, I challenged myself to cut the paper clutter. This is how I did it:
I borrowed some tips from Peter Walsh and the 15 minute rule from FlyLady and got to work. (BTW, I used her 27-Fling Boogie to de-clutter my knick knacks back in February.) I started with the pile on my desk then moved on to a big box of papers I had set aside for a rainy day. Finally, I dove into my 2 filing cabinets. File by file, I was a purging queen. As new paper entered my home, I sorted and tossed the best I could. I’m proud to tell you that I didn’t stop after finishing the purge. I set up a filing system for bills, receipts, and other papers that I need to keep, got my calendar in order, and found the perfect spot for my trash can and recycling bin. And it only took me 2 months.
I’m now 1/3 of the way through my 2011 challenge and I’ve de-cluttered some weird stuff:
- The hospital brochures from my first child’s birth…almost 12 years ago.
- A 3-inch thick file of magazine articles I had saved to read someday; some dating back to 1996-still unread.
- A few notes from a high school boyfriend. Yes, really. They were buried in a file marked, “personal”. Whatever.
- A book about breastfeeding. My youngest is 7 years old.
- An ink cartridge from 2 printers ago.
What are you holding on to that should be recycled, tossed, or passed on to someone else? I challenge you to find something weirder than the things I’ve listed here. Now who can I re-gift this to? (Peter would be so proud.)