Thursday, January 08, 2009

'Tis the Season for Decluttering!

It's 'that' time of year again. With my annual tax appointment postcard reminder from my tax guy, also comes the reality that I have once again lost the battle against clutter for yet another year.

And it's worse than usual this year.

With three new college attendees and yours truly also enrolled in classes, the amount of paper alone has tripled.

It ain't pretty.

So, generally this time of year as I wade through stacks and boxes of paperwork for Uncle Sam, I also try to tackle the stacks of paper that seem to be taking over. This year has been particularly challenging with oodles of manuscript hard copy drafts to be shredded and disposed of. And since I've never met a shredder built that could take the volume I shred, I generally hand shred the stuff--and recruit the triplets to lend a hand.

Or six.

You can imagine how thrilled they are when I bring out a new stack of manuscript pages.

THE KIDS: Uh, what is this?

ME: It's a hard copy of ANCHORS AWEIGH.

KIDS: We shredded that the other day.

ME: That was draft two. This is draft three.

KIDS: How many drafts are there?

ME: Do you want the number I tell my editor and agent or the real number?

KIDS: What's the difference?

ME: An extra digit.

That's when the kids start remembering previous appointments.

Invariably this decluttering extends to other areas of the home. This morning I opened my closet and tried to find a pair of shoes. I needed a fork lift to sift through the contents. I have shoes in my closet that despite their being totally cool, I've never been able to wear without intense pain and recurring toe cramps since I broke my foot two years back-not that such discomfort necessarily prevents women from making a fashion statement, wincing or not.

So, I tackled my bedroom closet this morning armed with a box for Goodwill and a plastic bin for the 'I'll give it one more year' footwear.

I never realized until today that I have a pair of running/walking shoes for each day of the week. And, yes, they're all like new.


Next up were my book bins. Okay. So, I never actually got rid of any books. Maybe next year I'll get down to one bookcase in my bedroom...

I guess it's time for some real change in the decluttering arena.

Any great advice out there for organizing and decluttering? Any tips that you use throughout the year to keep the stacks of paper from reaching armpit level?
Any really rocking storage products you use to assist you in making most of limited space? And most of all, any tried and true methods for keeping from being buried in paper by year's end? I'd be eternally grateful.

And now--back to the shredding...

~Bullet Hole Bacus who currently holds the record for most paper cuts~


Christie Craig said...

Agg. I hate clutter, but it sure does seem to love me.

My office doesn't look quite as bad as the picture you posted, but it's close.

I know the secret to dealing with it, to put up the work every day, but I just haven't been able to make a habit of it.

Thanks for reminding me to add one more thing on my list to work on this year.


Bookmobiler said...

Any great advice out there for organizing and decluttering?

Give up! You can't win anyway.

If you move the piles you'll never figure out where you put anything.

Kathy Bacus said...

My office is a close second to the one in the posted picture, Christie. I have piles here and piles there with little post it notes on the top of the files detailing what the pile represents.

Oh, and I also moved my Nordic-Trac into my office so we could put our Christmas tree up and I haven't gotten around to moving it back out.

If I thought I'd keep to my resolution, I'd make one to attend to paperwork daily and sort, shred, and file it in a timely manner.

But why make a resolution just to break it and feel lousy about myself over not only the clutter, but breaking my resolution as well.

Better a generic resolve to do better...

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Sadly, I must agree, Bookmobiler. The task seems daunting--and never-ending.

Prime example here: (Uh, don't let on to my agent, 'k?)but I've misplaced the edited hard copy of a new manuscript she took the time to go through and provide written feedback on throughout.

I know it's here somewhere.

And I will hunt that sucker down if it takes all night...

~Bullet Hole~

Estella said...

If you find a way to declutter and keep your office decluttered, please let me know the secret.

Refhater said...

Sorry, I can't give you any advice about organizing and decluttering. I am a hardcore packrat and come from a long line of packrats. My grandma, mother, and I all have junk rooms instead of junk drawers. You just never know when you might need that reciept for laundry soap from 1986 and that magazine from 1976 is now a collectable.

Our efforts to "clean house" are often thwarted by each other. Whenver one goes to throw something out, the others end up taking it home.

Best of luck with your decluttering efforts. You could try a nice bonfire, that's what we do with the 700 billion credit card offers we get each year.

Kathy Bacus said...

If I discover the secret, Estella, I'm going to patent it...!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

I used to have some roaring fires when I lived in the country, Refhater. I sure miss being able to burn, baby, burn all that junk mail.

Neighbors frown on that sort of thing in town...

I'm a bit of a pack rat, too. I come by it naturally. My mother boxed up items for each of her four children for Christmas this year that included our report cards, adolescent works of art (arrgh!) and unflattering photos and news clippings. At least she handed over the potential blackmail items!

Whew! Dodged that bullet.

~Bullet Hole~

Gemma Halliday said...

My best advice… go electronic. :) I never print up hard copies of my manuscripts anymore. I have a copy on my hard drive, one on my laptop, one on one of those handy memory stick things, then, just in case all those backups die, I email myself a copy as well. Okay, so my computer is littered with a ton of files, but no paper cuts!


Kathy Bacus said...

I'm so trying to 'go green' with my writing projects, too, Gemma, but I must be old-fashioned in that I do a much better job of editing and proofreading when I have a hard copy to work with.


I have tried to reduce the number of hard cover drafts I print off and use the fronts and backs of the printer paper so I'm improving.

BTW, I managed to locate the agent-edited hard copy manuscript I'd misplaced. It was in the bottom of a plastic storage bin I'd tossed items into to go through at a later time.

Guess now's that time.

~Bullet Hole~

Lucy said...

Advice for decluttering and getting organized? Move. With only the clothes on your back. Start fresh.

Works every time. ;)

Seriously, no idea. I spent my two week vacation working on that very thing. It's a lot better but it's not done yet. *sigh*

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I'm like Gemma - I almost never print anything out.

My husband though? He has a few different non-fiction projects going and he tends to print out A LOT of articles to support his work. I even gave him a filing cabinet for his birthday one year because I was tired of the stacks on our dresser. The cabinet isn't yet full but the stacks are coming back. Funny you should mention this topic now because I was just looking around thinking that I should start sorting and tossing.

And if you invest in a more powerful shredder, can't you claim that as a deduction on your taxes as a business expense? :)

Minna said...

I don't throw anything away, but... All that paper I absolutely know I won't need ever again: waste paper recycling ASAP
Clothes and shoes I never wear that are in good condition: I either trade them for something else or I take them to the fleamarket. Once a year or when I happen to notice such item in my closet.
Clothes that are not in such a great conditon: if there's anything I can use for handiwork I cut off, all the rest goes to garbage bin. Once a year or when I happen to notice such item in my closet.
Other useless stuff: fleamarket or trading. It's unbelievable what some people collect or find useful. I've gotten a lot of useful stuff by trading -and gotten rid of useless stuff. Huge amount of yarn for a few plastic beads is not a bad deal. And ever heard of that one red paperclip guy?
Books: fleamarket, trading, second hand bookstore. Did I like this book, do I still like this book, do I ever read this book or have use for it? As difficult it is, I have to get rid of some books and other stuff. Otherwise I run out of space!

catslady said...

No help here - I'm a total pack rat. I think it stems from childhood - my mom throws everything away (sister too) including what was mine. Now my husband does the same thing. I think it makes me hang onto things even more lol.

Kathy Bacus said...

LOL,Lucy! Actually I know another really radical way to downsize: It's called a FLOOD! My basement was flooded four years ago and again last year and I filled a jumbo-sized dumpster with flood damaged items. Since then I've kept my basement furnishings to a minimum and everything is stored in a plastic bin.

Guess I need to use the same 'shut the eyes and toss' method upstairs, as well!

Bummer of a way to spend your vacation, though.

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Yep, I could invest in a jumbo shredder and deduct it, Jenyfer, but with the sheer volume I have to shred, I fear it would take forever just to permit the shredder to cool down between stacks. But I figure once the kids are gone for good, I'll either have to dispense with the hard copies or invest in the shredder.

I actually made a lot of headway yesterday and I should finish up this weekend!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Minna, for the great tips! I've taken items to second hand stores and helping hands pantries that are still in good shape. I also have a huge rag bag of cut up clothing and it sure comes in handy--especially given all all my painting projects.

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

I'm really trying to curb the tendency to accumulate items that I really don't need, catslady, but I must confess to having a difficult time resisting the urge to purchase an especially cute piggie figurine to add to my collection or anything that features books or reading for my office.

I also have a bit of a 'thing' for jackets and coats...


~Bullet Hole~

Minna said...

Oh, and then there are these handy plastic bags. I can't remember what they are actually called, but you put your clothes or blankets or other stuff inside, squeeze out the air from the bag and like magic your clothes and blankets and stuff take much less space.

One red paperclip guy:

And the million dollar webpage: