One of the best ways to deal with your stuff is to filter on the fly. By doing a bit of prep work up front, purging papers, donating goods, and keeping up on a clutter free life are made easy.
Donation Station: Set aside a place for a donation box at work or home. Ensure that when you fill a box, you add another so there is always a place for new additions. Commit to not taking things out of the donation box.
Shred Box: Don’t let shredding slow you down. Keep a shred box in a convenient location. Place papers that need to be destroyed in the shred box. You can then shred when it is convenient or take the box to a local shredding company when it is full.
How to filter on the Fly
Pay a bit more attention to your surroundings. We tend to block out what we see everyday so our brains are not overloaded with information. If you try a shirt on and go “Yuck!” walk it over the donation station. See coffee cups no one has used in a year, they are out of here. Instead of stock piling office supplies (all those file holders, caddies, and sorters that seemed like a good idea at the time) donate them. See a knick knack, do you love it? If you (and your housemates) answer “No” then to the box it goes.
Don’t pass over those papers. It can be so easy to move a stack aside again and again without knowing what it contains. Instead of moving it all, commit to doing something with what is on top or the top inch. Aging papers usually need to be recycled, shredded, or filed. If the thought of filing stops you in your tracks, you need to simplify your filing system. In the mean time, create a file, bag or box and label it “2012 To File.” Even if you never make pretty files out of those papers they are in one place and dated (guiding rules 1 and 2 for papers.)
An email a day feels great. I recently started cleaning out my in box one email at a time. Starting with the oldest email I had saved.
Do I care about this anymore? Is it relevant anymore?
No- delete it
Yes – continue
Do I need to save this as a record or receipt?
Yes- Print it to PDF and file accordingly. Then delete it.
Do I need to follow up on this?
Yes- Do it right then and there.
I have many emails color coded for “blogs” and “Facebook.” These emails include reference information that I want to share.
What do I do?
Option1: Print to PDF blog reference material with the topic as the document name. File it in my “To Write” folder.
Option 2: Forward the email to myself with a subject like “Health care on W’2s.” This allows me to easily see the topic and reason why I have the email saved.
Option 3: Post it right then and there.
Filtering on the fly takes away the need and burden of the Big Purge. It is an exercise in letting go. You will need to meet “I might need that someday” head on. Ask yourself “what is the worst thing in reality that could happen if I need this someday and do not have it?”
People who take “I might need that someday” to heart end up living the “I cannot find it/forgot I had it/bought a new one” life. So they never actually use all they have and spend more money maintaining the “I might need that someday” lifestyle then they would have if they let go of what they did not need or use and bought things as they needed them.
Above all filtering on the fly should be a light hearted event. Have fun letting go!