"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 And it's only when I eventually go back to reorganize or clear out the out-of-date stuff that I discover all kinds of pieces I forgot existed.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
Oh my! When I look around me, I think I should be organizing stuff. I try to be organized ,but usually end up with piles of papers that have no home.ReplyDelete
Hi Ruth, I do know about those paper piles without a home. At least now I put some of the piles into designated baskets - which helps keep the chaos in a tiny pile. :)Delete
Gosh this resonates with me right down to the basket of papers in a pile. When the papers peek over the top, I start looking through and shredding. I have lost some very important papers by trying to file them "properly." There has to be a better way. Thanks for sharing your story.ReplyDelete
My wire basket pile is about to go over the top so it's time to go through and sort. I'm always glad when I find paper I no longer need so it can be discarded/shredded. Thanks, Vee, for stopping by.Delete
After years of experimenting, I've successfully become a filer AND a piler😁 Things that I can, for the most part, forget about but still need keeping (old income tax returns, etc), go into files in a file cabinet. Everything house and home related goes into monthly files that hang on the wall above the desk and are well-labeled for instant access. Things that are current but have a short keeping time, go "under the apple". The apple being a lovely paperweight brass apple that came as a parting gift from a former workplace:) I'm sure better organized folk would be horrified, but it's worked well for us, so not gonna mess with the system any time soon:)ReplyDelete
It sounds like your experimenting over the years has paid off. I like your system of keeping things sorted and in hand. Thanks, Kathy!Delete
I sort out papers as necessary and then I file ...ReplyDelete
All the best Jan
Thanks for stopping by, Jan, and sharing a note.Delete
Dear Brenda. We are fellow pilers. Your basket looks exceedingly neat compared to mine. I pile and pile and pile. It's hard to dump. One of my very worst inabilities is that of discarding greeting cards. I have some beauties from years ago, right up to the present time! I also have a preponderance of notebooks of all sizes. And diaries throughout many decades. And , on and on and on. Well, you get the drift. I love going through parts of the piles from time to time. Thanks for a post with which I can truly identify 100 percent.ReplyDelete
Oh Susan, I know what you mean about greeting cards. I have boxes of old cards in my closet. They've been sorted over the years, but they still pile up. It seems so sad to discard them, especially when they are meaningful. And I love the history involved, not only in the relationships, but in seeing the style of greeting cards change through the years. I have a few cards from the 1970s I received while in college - they are so different than what a person finds today. I'm so glad you stopped by. Enjoy your day.Delete
Oh my. I finally am reading someone just like me! I have tried and tried to be like my younger sister who is VERY organized and can find anything at any time. Me? I have a general idea of where things are. But! if I actually "file" things? They may as well have been thrown away :(ReplyDelete
I read a post you published a week or so ago (sorry, I've had so many things go on lately I don't remember an exact time) but you spoke on readers commenting. I am guilty of reading and thoroughly enjoying, being moved, then moving on because I feel like what I have to say doesn't matter that much.
You made me realize that my just popping in and saying "thank you" might actually mean something to the writer. For "taking" and not "giving in return" I apologize.
I confess I am also extremely intimidated by the fact that punctuation is not my strong suit. I may have a good command of the English language, but punctuation is my weakest area and I fear embarassing myself.
For all I have gotten wrong - I apologize!
For all you have given me - whether in pictures, or recommended books (I've read numerous!), or quotes, or uplifting words/posts, I am deeply grateful.
The Lord bless you and keep you,
Carolyn, what a joy and a delight to receive your lovely comment. Thank you so much for taking the time to write. I hope you never have to feel 'guilty' or uncomfortable about writing and punctuation around here. After all, what's a misplaced comma between friends. Between you and me, I have my own struggles with grammar and punctuation - I find it's a never ending learning curve. I'm so glad you have enjoyed my posts in the past, and I'm so glad you overcame your discomfort to leave a note. It means a lot to me. Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places. Best blessings to you, Carolyn, and please come again.Delete
Oh my! Kindred spirits in piling papers! I'm so glad Tim keeps track of all the household and financial papers (in neat files) because I don't! Although, I think that if I had to, I'd be able to keep track of those papers. It's the creative things that are piled - and I'm glad to read that you, too, have scraps of paper with collected words on them. You've given me some food for thought on the basket idea! Thank you!ReplyDelete
Haha - kindred spirits in piling papers. Yes, indeed. I am like you, when it comes to the household and financial papers, I can be very organized and tidy. I used to be. Until Rick took that over on my behalf after we got married - for which I'm most grateful. Thanks for your note, Lorrie. xoDelete
Oh, Brenda, This whole topic makes my jaw clench, just thinking about it. I should be working on my piles and files and mostly throwing out about a thousand more pieces of papers right this minute instead of reading about it. I do appreciate your example of beautifying your world in this way. I want to do that myself, and to free up time for easier tasks and pleasant activities, so it is encouraging to know that other women are similarly engaged. <3ReplyDelete
Gretchen, I totally understand that clench. There was a time when the piles felt overwhelming but I tackled them little by little. That was one project I worked on the of Spring 2020 during lockdowns - to sort through the piles of old scrapbooks and papers and such. Because there wasn't anything else to pull on my attention or energy, I could relax and go through slowly.Delete
Whenever I get overwhelmed, I encourage myself with a little comment from my dear sister, who first read it on social media somewhere: A drop in the bucket every day and you'll end up with a pail of water.
Now I need to take that advice for other overwhelming projects on my horizon. In the meantime, I wish you His grace and a beautiful weekend ahead. Brenda xo
A piler- guilty as charged! I save little cardboard trays from canned goods and even pile the piles! Haha! I do have an organized system for bills, medical statements, etc., but I am a saver of quotes, decorating and gardening ideas, recipes, and even sewing and crochet patterns from magazines, etc. Every few months I sort through them and decide which ones I want to keep and put them in binders. I always wanted to be a Marie Kondo and have everything organized and tidy, but I know it will never happen. It's fun to go through my piles and discover interesting things that I had all but forgotten. I love knowing others have the same 'system'! Thanks for making me feel I'm not alone. x KReplyDelete
Oh my goodness, Karen, you save little cardboard trays from canned goods and even pile the piles? Haha! We are kindred pilers, indeed. It's always helpful in this old world of ours to know we're not alone in our stuff. Just knowing there's always someone else in the same boat, facing similar things, feeling the same emotions that is just so comforting. Thanks so much for your note! xoDelete
I'm sitting at a desk that is piled with both papers and files of papers. It's not horrendous, but it's also not very helpful. I can be incredibly organized when I make the effort, but somehow paper piles up, and every once in a while I deal with it - usually when some serious business needs tending to. Dealing with the pile(s) at that point both serves to distract me from what needs doing, and helps me pull together the papers I need to do the thing. :) Loved this post!ReplyDelete
Hi Becki, I can be very organized on many fronts, but when it comes to my own paper, that is a different story altogether. And I've come to accept it - there will always be piles of paper here and there in my office/study. At least I know it's in a pile, if I'm looking for something. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for taking the time to drop a note.Delete
Oh my dear if you could only see the piles of books and papers and photographs and notebooks in my office! But they are organized! I know where everything is, I think.ReplyDelete