"Proper storage is about creating a home for something so
that minimal effort is required to find it and put it away."
Decluttering Your Home: Tip, Techniques and Trade Secrets
I used to think I wanted a neat filing system like the one Miss Lemon created in the Hercule Poirot television mystery series. She was great fun to watch as she enthusiastically explained to Monsieur Poirot the intricacies of her efficient cross-referencing filing system. Pulled into her ardor, was he enthused with all the details or merely being polite, as was his usual kind fashion? "Her real passion in life was the perfection of a filing system beside which all other filing systems should sink into oblivion. She dreamed of such a system at night." from the Christie story, How Does Your Garden Grow
Coming home from the stationer's store with crisp new file folders in a rainbow of colours always created a frisson of excitement in my effort to keep my piles of papers from sliding into utter chaos. But the truth is, as much as I admire Miss Lemon's precise files, I am not that person in real life. I need something far less complicated and as low maintenance as possible. Something less restrictive, too. I do have a few file folders, especially when something can definitely be labelled in one category and doesn't also happen to fit in three other possible categories. It's the cross-referencing that truly makes my eyes cross, not to mention my brain!
I have also come to accept that there is a part of me that doesn't mind a few piles in my study. And when I read a recent blog post Pilers and Filers by Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like An Artist, about the way people deal with their files, I realized I'm more of a Piler than a Filer. You see, the minute I put things into folders—whether paper or digital—that's when they disappear into another universe. There's the old saying, 'out of sight, out of mind'. Once information disappears inside a folder, I soon forget what's tucked in there. And it's only when I eventually go back to reorganize or clear out the out-of-date stuff that I discover all kinds of pieces I forgot existed. Pile files, on the other hand, of which I often have a stack on my desk and a couple on shelves, remain alive with possibility. I never mind sorting through a pile of paper; it's a little like Christmas, I never know what I'll discover that might be useful for something I'm working on.
Just to clarify what I mean by a piler or filer, a 'pile' file is that collection of folders or papers or books stacked vertically on top of one another. A 'file' file is usually neatly organized horizontally in file folders in a file cabinet labeled in alphabetical, date, or topical order.
Of course, it would be different if I had a lot of things that needed to be saved and stored in some organized fashion. I've decluttered, discarded, and downsized a lot over the years; my world is small these days, as are my paper piles. Rick keeps the household business files neatly labeled in a desk drawer in his office. So my paper is mostly for my own work of creating, writing, and organizing family archives, which includes my own personal papers.
I have a wire basket (see top photo) just inside my doorway on the credenza where my printer also sits. The basket is usually piled high - it's the holding place for things I need or want to keep for now. One friend uses such a basket and throws everything in there that she doesn't have time to deal with—fliers, bills, requests—then goes through it once a week. What a good idea, but I've never translated that into any actual weekly action. So my basket just stays there, mute, until one day it's either overflowing or I'm in the mood to go through it.
Then I have a pale green wicker basket with a lid that sits on the bottom shelf in my study. It's where I pile anything that has to do with memorabilia, including those 'celebration of life' pamphlets of cherished folks who are gone. And there's one birthday card (above) which Rick created for me in the middle of lockdowns (Spring 2020) when all shopping except for true necessities were frowned upon. It has an especial value for various reasons.
I'm surprised. I usually have a growing pile on the side of my desk. But when I went to take a pic to show you, there was no pile to speak of. In a spring cleaning burst of energy the other day, things had been sorted, discarded, reshelved: slips of paper with quotes for my commonplace book, a stash of books I referenced for a blog post, shopping lists, cards for upcoming birthdays, as well as my 2023 blog writing schedule. Sometimes my Marjolein Bastin desk calendar gets covered in those little piles of paper and when I need to mark something on the calendar, I tuck those papers underneath until I do something with them.
As for my digital files, they usually end up being, well, the same thing as my paper files. Anything inside a file folder gets forgotten, thus lost, no matter what label I give it. I think I need some sort of a 'pile' spot for my digital stuff too - loosely labeled: writing, family, household projects, personal.
In truth, I'm a happy Piler... with some Filer on the side.
Because there is too much in the world that feels out of order, I am constantly on the lookout for ways to lessen the strain even in my daily routines and habits. Of course, we each must find our own way—sorting out who we are and how we like to work in the different seasons of life—Austin Kleon's blog post might provide a bit of inspiration if you need it. All to make our path smoother... giving us a more peaceful, less stressful life.
Hope you enjoyed the chat...
wishing you a beautiful weekend,
Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life, 2023