Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Facing Down the Paper Monster

I've been up to my hips in opened and unopened mail and other paper detritus for some time now, despite having read a fair amount of good practical advice about digging out.

Today, my son's search for an anticipated notice from his school-to-be inspired an initial sortie, overdue for what turns out to have been about two-and-a-half years.  Instead of tree rings, or carbon dating, I can use the dates and postmarks on the swirl of documents to determine when I last tackled this mess in a serious way, and thus establish the age of the paper monster.

I have periodically taken steps to stem the tide of incoming bulletins and solicitations, but to insufficient avail.  In the course of the couple of hours I stole from other occupations this morning, I discarded dozens of credit card offers addressed to my husband, my older son, and myself; sorted a mishmash of depressing investment reports; suffered a severe paper cut while handling just the last couple of months worth of health insurance explanations, health bills, and threatening notices from collection agencies resulting from the constipated claims payments engendered by the not-so-great recession; stuffed reams of advertising flyers into the overflowing recycling bin; and endured guilt pangs fostered by a tilting stack of requests for donations to compelling causes.

I would estimate that I am about a quarter of the way into this campaign.  I am also beginning to acknowledge that my files are not going to hold all the "keepers" from this massive sifting.  It is probably time to revisit the approach laid out by Laura Stack in Chapter 6 of Find More Time:  How to Get Things Done at Home, Organize Your Life, and Feel Great About ItAlthough I had good intentions the first time through, I confess that my aspirations stayed just that.  And I hadn't even committed to any real purging--just to minimal catching up, and trying to avoid falling further behind.

But today's session whetted my appetite for offloading much of this unsolicited legacy.  I am tired of devoting so much space in my home to the stuff other people want to send me.  If I can't find a space to sit down, why should last month's mail enjoy an undisturbed resting place?  And why is a corner of the addition we're still paying for be taken up with files and shelves dedicated to containing my decades-old collection of this unwanted lot?

I am looking forward to continuing my battle with paper over the next couple of days, to filling more paper bags and ushering them out the door, and to attempting once more to attack the sources with the goal of weakening the beast.  

Wish me luck.  I'm going in. . .

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