In this series on organizing paper, we’ll explore deeper paper organizing issues and ways you can overcome them. See Organizing Paper - Part 1 - The Issue of Having Too Much Paper
Another reason paper organizing is difficult is that we get incredibly EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED to paper. Some people attach so much value to the “potentially useful” information paper contains, they can’t let any of it go without anxiety. The roots of our attachment to paper run deep.
IDENTITY - Information and paper play incredibly important roles in our lives and even in our identities. The information contained in our paper can be a source of independence, power, recognition, proof of our accomplishments, and so much more. Some of our paper even represents tangible affirmations that we are loved and remembered by others. It validates our being.
MEMORY - Paper also allows us to extend our ability to remember information we might otherwise forget. Without paper, we wouldn’t be able to function very well. Its no wonder many people have deep fears that if they let go of paper, they are letting go of a part of themselves.
DECISION STRESS - Consequently, deciding which papers to let go of is very stressful for some people. Yet keeping too much paper carries with it a huge price tag as well. Unfortunately, the volume of paper we receive mixed with our reluctance to let go of it, is wreaking havoc and chaos in our homes. Instead of feeling confident that we can deal with our paper, we dread opening the mailbox. Remember when getting mail was a thrill? Not so much anymore. Hunting for papers we need amongst the many we don’t need is eating up hours of our time and causing untold stress.
FEAR - In order to take charge of paper, we must confront our feelings and beliefs about paper so we can let it go. For example, instead of fearing that you are letting a part of yourself go, consider letting go of it as taking care of yourself. Reassure yourself that thanks to the Internet and Google, you can always find the information you really need.
KIDS - Another source of troublesome emotional attachment to paper is the paper our children generate. Many parents today feel they must keep every single piece of artwork their kids produce. Just like some people feel if they toss a photo they are disrespecting the person in it: Some people feel they are disrespecting or letting go of their children if they toss their artwork.
STRATEGIES FOR LETTING GO MORE EASILY - To make it easier to let go of artwork, think about this. If you keep only the best 10 or 20 pieces per year, you will appreciate the special pieces more. And, you will be teaching your children to prioritize what they keep as well.
Another way to make it easier to let go is to take digital pictures of their artwork. That could clutter up your computer, but that’s a whole other issue! : )
See my article on Organizing Kids Artwork
Related Blog Posts
BOTTOM LINE - The potential for paper overload is staggering. The price we pay for our attachment to paper is that the more we keep, the more living space we have to devote to it, and the more time, energy and money we have to spend organizing and containing it. To take charge of paper, you must change the way you think and feel about paper, set tough boundaries about what paper to keep and how much space in your home to devote to it.
In Part 3, we’ll continue this exploration of how we can reframe the way we relate to our paper.
Copyright © 2007 Ariane Benefit
If you would like to reprint this article on your blog or other publication please email or call for permission and send me a link to how it appears. Also be sure to include my bio as shown below. Thanks!
© 2007 Ariane Benefit
Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed, Organizing Coach, is the founder of Neat & Simple Professional Organizers. She specializes in helping people create the homes & offices of their dreams! She is also the author of the popular organizing and decluttering blog, Neat & Simple Living