4. Other People’s Papers – I’ve been so surprised to hear how many of my clients and SOBS students have papers that belong to dead people in their piles. It’s everything from financial papers to doctors visit notes, get well soon cards to condolence cards, and from love notes to things like magazines and junk mail that would have been considered paper clutter even to the deceased.
Now, I know that it’s hard to let go of things that belonged to our loved ones but let’s think about these papers. Are they helping you remember what you long to remember about that person’s life? When you look at those piles, are you consumed with fond memories? Usually not. These things aren’t helping you remember them. You have memories, positive ones, and anything that doesn’t support that isn’t actually serving you. Letting go of that stuff isn’t letting go of your loved one. In fact, it will free you up to remember them properly, in a way that honors the life you shared together. This stuff is in your way.
If there are papers that represent positive memories that you’d like to keep, go the distance to do it well. Make some sort of memory book, or even a simple file folder that you can retrieve from the filing cabinet every once in a while to refresh your memory. And if the papers represent action that needs to be taken, then be still, feel what needs to be felt, and do what needs to be done. Leaving things undone won’t help you heal… it’s okay to release them.
5. Pictures – Not everybody does this but I’ve learned that lots of people have pictures tucked away in their stacks of papers (digital clutter is a conversation for a different day). Release what no longer serves you and then gather the rest of the photos into a single location to deal when once the paper backlog is eliminated, deal with your pictures as a single project.
6. Recipes – Oh how the recipes stack up around those with the best of culinary intentions! If you’re going to go through the trouble of printing, copying, and tearing them out, at least use them. Make them accessible in a notebook, on index cards, or a folder in the filing cabinet. If you’re feeling really savvy, go digital or virtual but whatever you’re going to do, do it. Don’t let your affection for recipes take over your space!