My home purge series continues as I tackle my home office. After successfully whittling down my book collection to my favorites, I decided to turn my attention to paper. I broke this down into two main categories: files and memorabilia.
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I have two large lateral file drawers in my home office next to my main desk. The top drawer is dedicated to current files containing documents from the past year ranging from financial and home care to medical and personal. The bottom drawer houses my back files dating back to 2005. 2005!
I knew I liked to hold onto paper documents, but I didn’t consider how unnecessary it has become in the digital era until only recently. I’ve always been organized when it comes to paper and enjoy keeping a tidy filing system. You can see how I kept my files pre-purge here if you’d like. Some people prefer paper to digital when it comes to storing personal records and I certainly fall into that camp. I decided, however, that I could save space and paper by changing over to electronic delivery of statements and bills for most of our financial and home-related accounts.
To purge my filing cabinet, I simply went through the drawers one folder at a time. I removed the folders for all accounts I could manage online with access to previous statements and sorted them into bags to recycle or shred. Our township offers local shredding several times a year, which is a great service if you have a lot to shred all at once.
I was able to purge over half of the paper in my filing system. I kept anything tax related from the last seven years, receipts related to big household, electronic, and personal purchases, insurance documents, and important health records. I am considering scanning our more important documents and keeping them stored in the cloud for safekeeping, which would further cut down on paper. I’ll probably condense my files into just one of the two drawers and use the other for storage. I don’t plan on going back to keeping so many paper files on hand.
I also have a tendency to hold onto a lot of paper when it comes to memorabilia, which for me includes past calendars, journals, and sentimental items. I realized I never look back through my food and gratitude journals, so I recycled those. While I used to occasionally peak at old calendars, I really haven’t done so in recent years, so I purged my collection dating back to 1998. Yes, you read that right. I kept every calendar since my sophomore year of high school! What I decided to keep is my collection of diaries dating back to when I was just a kid. These are precious to me and deserve a spot in my home.
I didn’t tackle my six bins of sentimental paper items just yet because I’ve decided to do so when I go through my craft closet next, but I already made up my mind that the majority of that stuff will go. I’ve saved every ticket stub, theater program, birthday card, and a slew of other paper memorabilia from the past decade, all neatly stored in labeled bins just waiting for…for what? If I haven’t scrapbooked this stuff by now, I’m never going to. I realized I was holding onto these things just for the sake of keeping them. I have my memories and my photos and I don’t need all that other stuff taking up space in my life.
If you’d like to hear more about my paper purge process, check out this video:
I believe that what you purge and what you keep is a personal choice and one that has to feel right to you. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to personal belongings, because value is subjective and cannot fairly be compared between people. I am happy with my decision in my paper purge process, which I considered for quite some time before taking the leap. Ultimately, I went with my gut feeling and it feels amazing to have purged what I did. I am left with the important paper I need and want to store in my home. Mission accomplished!
I’d love to know how you manage paper in your home or if you’ve decided to change your system if you care to share.
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