A mantra to help information junkies let go

 
What do you do when you’ve got lots of good information in the form of magazines and other paper that’s ultimately becoming clutter in your home and life, but you don’t want to get rid of it because it’s ‘good information’?
 

If forced to group my clients into just two categories, they would look like this:

A. People who struggle with documents (old and/or new) and to-dos.

B. People who struggle with letting go of articles, tear-outs, magazines, and newspapers.

Both groups come up against a myriad of reasons as to why things are they way they are. Their paper load may ebb and flow, but the needle doesn’t move enough, if at all. They may have spent many hours toiling away at the piles, only to find reasons to keep each paper or magazine that passes through their hands.  

Recently though, one client who falls firmly into category “B” nailed why letting go of articles (some from the early 1990s) is such a challenge: “But it’s good information!” Such a succinct reason elicited a succinct reply from a sometimes loquacious organizer. 

My reply: “Just because it’s good information doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever.”

In her case, a fair amount of her articles are on interior design. She’s starting to realize that, especially with a major renovation recently behind her, many of the images won’t be useful. She’s had some for so long that they’re dated or the design resources no longer exist. These realizations have caused a lot to go, but many stacks of folders containing magazine tear-outs remain. 

Ever since I uttered “Just because it’s good information doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever” a few sessions ago, I’ve asked her to make this her mantra. She’s simmering on it and I just know those recycling bags are going to fill faster and faster - they already did in that session alone. When I’m there, I’m not shy about repeating it out loud.  Given that interior design is of such interest to her, she’s realizing that the stacks of old design articles (and articles on other topics such as wellness and retirement) do not fit into her aesthetic that has been so finely honed by this decades-long passion. The articles on beauty are, well…not beautiful.

For years now I’ve told some clients that they can keep something if they have a good reason to - not just any reason - but a good reason. Note that I reserve this for the folks who I know want a strong force in the face of their clutter.  (Some just want a gentle nudge.) This has evolved this year into addressing the double-edged sword of “good information.”  We live in a time where we are drowning in good information. We buy it. It comes in the mail. We find it online. It lands in our inboxes. I find myself repeating this mantra to myself when I delete good information from my inbox.  When great newsletters and invites to juicy webinars pile up in my email, I sometimes just delete delete delete. It’s a fleeting pain. 

How good is the information if you’re buried in it? How good is it if you are so overwhelmed by it that you never make time to absorb it, let alone sit in a clutter-free room to enjoy it?  How good is it if piles of it are unsightly in your closet, on your floor, or on your desk? How good does it have to be to keep it amidst the barrage of newer, better information that will sure come at you later today? How good is it if you never make time to process it into something that positively affects your life?

I can think of at least three other clients who have been assigned this same mantra since.  Will you adopt it next time you hold some “good information” in your hands?

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Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper.

She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Learn her time-tested solutions in her eBook, The Inspired Office: Organize Your Life One Paper at a Time. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking.

Are you keeping tax records for too long? (Probably)

Everybody wants to know “how long should I keep records?”  Each time I’m asked I refer clients to the IRS’s answer to this question to draw their own conclusions.  

Most are surprised to learn that they are keeping tax documents for about 4 years longer than necessary.  

Read More

119 Circle

Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper.

She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Learn her time-tested solutions in her eBook, The Inspired Office: Organize Your Life One Paper at a Time. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking.

3 Tools to Zap Paper and Digital Junk Mail

Digital Organizer friend Lilli Weisz of www.simplified.life recently reminded me of the effectiveness of using DMAChoice.org to eliminate junk mail! I had completely forgotten that I entered my information on their site years ago and absolutely noticed a decrease in junk mail in the weeks to follow and even to this day. 

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119 Circle

Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper.

She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Learn her time-tested solutions in her eBook, The Inspired Office: Organize Your Life One Paper at a Time. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking.

How I used Evernote this week to cut my files in half

Most of what we keep in files are “peace of mind” documents, not actually anything we will need to access.  One of the many benefits to Evernote is that it can help you digitize hard copy files (via camera phone or scanner), allowing you to toss the original.  This is exactly what I did this weekend when trying to cut my files in half.  I succeeded.  Full disclosure - I went from about 2’ of files down to 14” of files.  Now, instead of a file cart, I just have two small flle boxes that sit on my closet floor!  Here is exactly what I Evernoted (after trashing quite a bit):

  • A very thick folder of contact info from talk attendees.  I didn’t capture each contact slip, but rather checked my bundles (clipped and labeled by talk venue and date) against my public speaking resume that lives in Evernote.  Once that note was updated, the 3’ folder was shredded.
  • My last credit report.
  • My folder of leases from tenants from when I rented a room in my condo.
  • A stack of notes from an old consulting gig.
  • Copy of an old security clearance.
  • Created a master note of bank account numbers (some mystery ones I need to ask about), allowing me to shred a small pile of old deposit slips and checks.

Now each of these lives in Evernote, meaning I can access this info from anywhere, confident that I can find it when I need it (though highly unlikely).  In essence, I Evernoted many of the “I don’t need this anymore, but am nervous to toss it" items.  I didn’t use a scanner (and never do), just my camera phone!  I’m always chipping away at my files, but feel like this was the final push.

What hard copy files of yours are many years old that you feel you should keep, though you know you’ll never need to access them?  Please share in the comments the documents and folders that Evernote can zap!

119 Circle

Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper.

She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Learn her time-tested solutions in her eBook, The Inspired Office: Organize Your Life One Paper at a Time. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking.

How I used Evernote this week to keep medical records

I had my blood pressure taken last week and added the reading to my “My Blood Pressure” note in my “Medical” Evernote notebook.  It’s helpful to see a history like this laid out so clearly.  Other notes in this notebook are an old eyeglass prescription, dentist’s records, and medical bills.

How I used Evernote this week to clip an interior design article

Do you keep magazines just because they have one good article?  If not, do you tear out articles or design pages only to have an "articles to read" or "design articles" folder?  Or worse, do these articles pile up in all corners of your bag, office, and home?  I avoid this with Evernote.  Last week I saw a stunning home in Architectural Digest that I just had to share with a friend.  I pdf'd it with my phone via Genius Scan (though I could have just as easily jpeg'd it with the Evernote app), saved it to Evernote, sent it to my friend, and ditched the magazine.  Next time my friend and I need (and I don't use the word "need" lightly) I can just look it up in Evernote, rending the colorful page much more useful than if they were stuffed in a bag. View the very colorful note here.

How do I know if I'm ready to go paperless?

This is a question I answer more than any these days. I give the same answer every time, no matter who is asking, so it made sense to post to my site. Watch the video below & see if you're ready to go paperless. Click here to watch other FAQs about working with me.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here to catch minimalism tutorials each week.

How I used Evernote this week to immortalize (and toss) my nieces' artwork

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Evernote is a one stop shop for zapping kids' artwork. I save about 1 out of 10 pieces my nieces create for me. Everything else gets photographed into my "Memorabilia" Evernote notebook. I only have about 50 notes in here as of now. I deliberately do not tag these notes. Just like a "real" memorabilia box, I like opening this notebook and rummaging through it, all but forgetting what I added but having the joy of rediscovering it. Once that number gets to 100+, I might change my mind about that. The latest work of art from my nieces is a fan art triptych dedicated to my cat, Zucca. They lovingly drew pictures for him that we posted above his food. A few weeks later after Zucca was tired of looking at them, into Evernote they went. View the installation art piece here.

Evernote's New Scannable App

scannableIf you have Evernote and you're not yet also using a scanning app, you'll want to try their new scanning app, Scannable for quick scanning of documents as PDFs or JPEGs.

Personally, I'm so used to Genius Scan which seems to work as seamlessly with Evernote so I haven't switched over, but just want to give you options.

Read a helpful review of Scannable here.

 

kacyRoundOffice Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and kacy@theinspiredoffice.com. Learn about Skype consultations here. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com

How to Remove Your Name from the ValPak Mailers List

Boy was I thrilled to learn about this site.  My organizer friend in Los Angeles, Deron Bos, pointed me to this link where you can unsubscribe from ValPak mailers.  I mean, how may roofing discount coupons does one girl need?  Sign up for Deron's newsletter here for a freebie list of more tips as good as this one.

 

kacyRoundOffice Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and kacy@theinspiredoffice.com. Learn about Skype consultations here. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com

How I Used Evernote This Week to Remember A Useful Napkin

5Have you ever found something really useful scribbled on the back of a napkin or envelope? I certainly did while organizing last week.

My client found the cleverest diagram of how to recall measurements of cups, pints, quarts, and gallons.

I snapped a photo with my camera that will be at the ready next time my retired schoolteacher mother pop-quizzes me!

Click here to see the diagram in my Evernote.

 

kacyRoundOffice Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and kacy@theinspiredoffice.com. Learn about Skype consultations here. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com

How I used Evernote this week: Eliminating cookbooks

using evernote I eliminated these cookbooks plus a stash of tear-outs of old recipes.

I photographed favorite recipes with either the Evernote app or Genius Scan and saved them into my "Food & Recipes" notebook.

Click here to see how it looks in Evernote (and to get my favorite fall breakfast recipe).

Office Organizing ExKacy Paidepert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and kacy@theinspiredoffice.com. Learn about Skype consultations here. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com