Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mountains of...

The mountains I am talking about are made of paper! Don't you hate those growing mounds of paperwork, which seem to multiply when your back is turned? They grow and expand and when they can't get any taller, they move to another part of the house! This is the mound I was tackling recently...

Using the sofa for sorting through

There's school related papers which I can clear now the school year has ended. Also some superannuation paperwork Dave and I need to go through, roll over, and what have you. Lots of miscellaneous pieces which seemed important to keep at the time too, but when it's been sitting in the same pile for years (how embarrassing) you know they probably won't have any value in the future. If they're only fit for a pile and not to be acted upon, then they must not be that important.

But I'm not the only person guilty of such wayward paperwork habits however - Dave and our daughter are forever bringing home piles of their own. Sarah loves to draw, so there are many experimentation's lining the table and even the floor! Dave, well, he must be the largest paperwork magnet there is. It all ends up living on the food table (even on the chairs we don't use) and makes for a very cluttered home base.

Using the table for storage - hoping to tackle this habit

With the wet weather content on keeping us indoors, I figured it was time to really take a different attitude to how I file my paperwork. What did I really need to store and what was just clutter? I do have a four-drawer filing cabinet to keep all our important stuff in, but I must admit, it's starting to look like a woman about to birth her baby: so very ready to drop a bundle. The second last drawer from the bottom, has files so thick, I have to be particularly persistent in rolling it closed. The bunched up files are scraping the top of the unit and won't let it close easily.

The filing cabinet can wait for now however, as I spent most of the day sorting through random piles of paperwork instead. I was amazed at how much I really DIDN'T need. I was also amazed how all our take-away menus had so many different locations around the house. We don't eat out much (maybe 4 times a year) and generally only because we ran out of time to cook. We have special take away joints that make great tasting food - a real pizzeria for example, not a franchise. So I collected all the different menus and put them in one place. I also put all our superannuation paperwork in one place so Dave and I can tackle it.


I also went through the various surfaces in my office and gave them a good sorting as well. Above is after I cleared away a whole stack of stuff. The pile of letters is meant for the compost bin. Which brings me to my Christmas present this year! It's sitting under the Christmas tree as I type. With all this paperwork to get through, can you guess what it is? Okay, I'll tell you...

A ... P A P E R ... S H R E D D E R ! ! !

I've always wanted an electronic shredder, because I've manually cut (or tore) paperwork destined for the compost. Which is fine when you only have a few pieces to dispose of, but when you're about to embark on tackling years of paperwork hoarding, it would require more shredding than my poor hands (and scissors) could manage. I could've bought the big whopper shredder, but when I looked at the mechanised head compared to the smaller model I realised they had very similar designs. One let you shred 5 pieces of paper at a time, the other let you shred 8.

For the extra $20-30 I would have spent on the whopper shredder, I would've been able to shred 2 extra pieces and store it in a bigger bucket underneath. These were not important features to me, because while I can store paperwork for years, when it comes to disposing it in the compost, that gets done twice a week! The smaller bucket on the smaller shredder would serve me just fine.

Not all our paperwork finds it's way to landfill though. I suppose it does eventually, but we have a scrap-paper pile to write on the blank side (or in our daughter's case) she likes to draw on them so we aren't buying fresh paper all the time. I write my shopping lists on the scrap paper too. In the picture above, you'll notice a little plastic note caddy that I cut scrap paper to fill. I use a cutting board, ruler, pencil and a sharp blade. They make great little notes to keep beside the telephone to jot down messages.

While paperwork can be quite a chore to keep on top of, I know I am capable of designing a better system. My old nemesis (time) is the only thing standing in my way, LOL. I'll get there eventually, especially if the rainy weather hangs around some more. ;)

What's your worst paperwork habit and what's your best tip at organising it?


  1. Boy do I relate!
    Well Jasmine and I were big paper users because we draw and doodle. Solution: Sketch pads. All in one place and kept for future reference.

    Bills-we shred bills with a shredder. You will love it! We file what we need and that is really only school related and our tax returns, insurance updates.
    Really important papers are in a bank box-passports, birth certificates, things like that.

    Everything else-we are on a list where we don't get junk mail. That cuts out a lot but some gets through. Shredder again.

    We also use a chalkboard for to do lists and we carry a small notebook for errands.
    I think we have it as under control as we possibly can but its an ongoing task!

  2. I like the chalkboard idea. We actually have a couple of those hanging around, which Dave scored (legitimately) from various work places. They are chalkboard menus.

    My head spins in the ways to organise so much paperwork though. Most defintiely an ongoing work in progress. ;)

  3. I got rid of the stuff piling up on the dining table by getting rid of the dining table. That's not everyone's cup of tea though. :)

    I try to get rid of any unnecessary paperwork before it hits the filing cabinet (which is two drawers, one for business and one for household). I keep the latest bill and throw out the older ones (in theory, a bit behind on this). Same with insurance papers etc.

    I do have a pile elsewhere of artwork etc, and somewhere in the shed is the pile of papers relating to the house building that I really should get rid of. I probably don't need to keep much of them at all. But gee that created a lot of paper!

    Paper shredders are cool. I put my shredder over a 50L plastic box. The old box that it used to sit on was the perfect size to fit in the space in my bathroom for a rubbish bin. :)

  4. Sorry I haven't been back to comment until now Rinelle, I've been hatching chicklets. :)

    I actually see the reasoning process in getting rid of the table, LOL, but ours is very handy at this stage.

    I can't wait to open my shredder for Christmas! I'm hoarding all the paper until then. ;)


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