Thanksgiving Alternative: Decluttering my Office
Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. As a Canadian, I am truly blessed – I get to celebrate Canadian thanksgiving in October and then enjoy the celebrations of my friends across the border in November. For a taste of something different – no turkey, no food, no lists of gratitude (although I recommend them), I thought I’d share about some recent successes I’ve had in my office.
I love statistics and graphs and articles. Worse, I print them out and file them. Way back when, if I found a good exercise at a workshop, or in a book, I copied it and kept it in a file, just in case I ever needed that kind of information. Fast forward thirty years and I had 2 – four drawer horizontal filing cabinets full of ‘information’. Worse, I moved them. Twice.
But when I was thinking about moving out of my townhouse I knew I had to downsize substantially – otherwise the storage fees were going to kill me. And those filing cabinets caught my eye.
Hmmm. What to do with all that paper?
Of course I needed information about getting rid of my information so I went to the internet to see what I could find. Thanks to Esther and Jerry Hicks, I found the perfect plan for me.
One drawer at a time, I put my papers into bankers’ boxes and wrote the current date on them. I didn’t look at the papers I just moved them. And then I waited. And waited.
The rule is that I may remove anything from any of the boxes anytime I wanted. I didn’t remove anything from the first 3 boxes. Or the next three.
At the end of six months, without opening the boxes to ‘snoop’, I picked each of them up and carried them to the dumpster. As I let the first one go, I took a deep breath then exhaled. Hmmm, the world hadn’t come to an end and my ‘valuable information’ was in the bottom of an almost empty dumpster – commercial size.
Box number two…same thing, only I felt a bit of euphoria as I let go. Box three was mind blowing. I felt lighter than air and delighted with the new me. I hurried into the house and started looking for other things to get rid of. The freedom and ‘lightness’ that came with clearing out the old was incredible.
Lesson learned on this journey? I discovered that information is not worth keeping unless it’s personal, legal or financial. I don’t need receipts that go back a dozen years. I have to know what the taxman needs me to have. And if I have had a problem with something I should hang onto that information. But the truth was, I had so many papers that I couldn’t find what I needed when I needed it.
I’m down to a two drawer horizontal filing cabinet. I keep prior year’s tax returns in a fire proof box in my basement. And my favorite file is huge. But if I need a piece of paper, I can find it. Quickly and easily.
Happy thanksgiving! Happy decluttering!