Those of us naturally inclined to organization can take as much ribbing asthe pack-rat. We have been referred to in unflattering terms – fuss budget, “a”retentive, neat freak – you get the idea.
The truth is we all live on a continuum and we are all subject to the same natural laws. The messiest person can have useful systems and be organized somewhere. Conversely, the most organized among us can be late because of traffic or overwhelmed because we over-promised our time. We also have to set aside time to get organized because our well-oiled systems are impacted by change as much as anyone else’s. That’s what I did this weekend.
This past weekend, I found myself remembering the implications of Parkinson’s Law – “things expand to fill the space available”. My house has lots of storage space -so much that some I have never used. This allowed me to store my tax records… and just keep storing them… and storing more until I had over 20 years worth.
Like any client of mine, I was experiencing the the same feelings of overwhelm when I looked at the size of the project and thought about having to handle all those pieces of paper.
I also had the same warm memories – my first client file – or laughing at myself over a reminder of a past lived in a world so different from the one I occupy now – my 1991 presentation at NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) conference – “How To Decide if Your Business Needs a Computer”. I even had the handout I printed using an old daisy wheel printer.
Sorting is time consuming and dirty. I don’t want to have to do this large a file purging project again. From now on, when I file away one year’s documentation, I will take a few extra minutes to eliminate everything I no longer need from eight years ago so I only have what I need to keep for 7 years or permanently in sotrage. One year at a time sounds much more manageable than 20 at once!
Like any client, I felt lighter as each box was reviewed and dispursed to either the permanent file, the recycle bin or the shred bin. Thanks KGW for having a free shred day yesterday so I could finish even that piece of the project quickly!
I took breaks to relieve the boredom. I alternated work to keep from wearing out my willingness to do any one activity (as I finished a box, I left the attic to put the folders in my office supplies, take the recycle paper to the bin etc.). I allowed myself to remember without getting stuck in the past. When it was all said and done I felt good about what I accomplished that day and all that I have accomplished with my business in the past 20+ years.
What task do you postpone until it becomes a big project?