Things I Learned by Downsizing – Part One – Papers     

 

I’m back to blogging this week–finally! This last move into a smaller home has been the biggest task of my life. Impacting my thoughts, emotions, and body has been a good transformative process and I’m thankful to be settled now.

The downsizing process began a couple of years ago by reading “Everything That Remains” in two sittings. My thoughts about stuff will never be the same.

Since moving into a smaller home a few months ago with one-third less stuff, here are the things I learned about purging the papers in my life:

Kids school papers

Everything from math fact worksheets to book reports cluttered our attic. Multiply this by three since I kept schoolwork from all of my children. Instead of keeping all those papers, send them to grandparents and special people in your lives or use them to make an envelope or wrap a gift. Take photos of their artwork, they’ll be digital and last longer.

Pay stubs, bills, and receipts

I cannot tell you how many boxes of this stuff I found in the garage and attic, including paycheck stubs from my first job in the 70s and receipts from a zillion places for things we don’t even own anymore. I tried shredding and burning it all myself, but it was taking ages and burnt out my shredder. My friend offered to take dozen boxes off my hands and had them shredded for me.

Journals, recipes, letters

Hysteria erupted when my husband found my diary from high school and saw all those tear-stained pages of my true loves lost! I’m so glad we found all my journals. Now, they are together in one box, a collage of my thought life.

The butter-stained recipes written by my mother, grandmother and precious friends are in a separate box together. Maybe someday I’ll compile a book of these handwritten recipes.

My grandma wrote to me weekly when I lived out-of-state for a couple of years. She passed away nearly 30 years ago, but I have all of those letters in a special box now. It felt like a warm hug to read her words. I’ll do that again someday when I am missing her. I’ve added cards and letters from other grandparents and loved ones to that box. A separate box holds the cards and letters from my two best friends I met in first grade and we are still best friends today.

Cards

So many boxes of cards! Some of those are in my new garage waiting to be sorted. I saved the ones with heartfelt notes inside and the ones my kids made all those Mother’s days ago. Though, most of the cards landed in the recycle bin.

Rewards of purging paper

The rewards are too numerous to mention, but the greatest is how much lighter my life feels. I felt buried underneath all of this paper/memorabilia and I’m glad it’s almost all gone.

Tips for a successful paper purge:

  • Hire a professional organizer. My favorite organizer works locally here
  • Keep your children’s original writings and art
  • Don’t buy storage containers–you’ll have plenty once you start getting rid of stuff
  • Follow “minimalist” types on social media
  • Keep receipts for big items, like furniture, vehicles, and home improvements

Is it time for you to shred, box, give-away, or recycle some papers?

Come back next time for tips about clearing out books, clothes, and household items.

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