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Declutter & Minimalising: Paperwork

Declutter & Minimalising: Paperwork

It’s amazing the amount of paperwork I have gained over the years! Mostly through fear of hearing my dad yell: “Don’t shred that! You’ll need it one day! They make you prove everything!” Referring to his firm belief (conspiracy theory) that the government will hunt you down and expect ten years of bank statements should you put one foot out of line. I’ve reached a stage where my tiny shoe box size bedroom is buried under paperwork and unnecessary junk. The minimalist approach to the amount of things I own will provide me with more freedom.

Following the latest move I decided I’m tired of moving files, folders and bags of paperwork around, it’s time to minimise! Especially now that forest worth of paper includes college and uni work, printouts and readings that are no longer of any use to me, or can be digitised.

5 Black Rubbish Bags of Shredding So Far…

I was surprised by the wonders and horrors I found, once I started going through various bags, boxes and prying open my dented old pink filing cabinet! (Modern filing cabinets look strong, but don’t stand on them). *cough* Yes, I’m an idiot! *cough* I misjudged it’s durability when trying to reach something, and now the top sinks in the middle and the drawer doesn’t shut properly. Every time I forget and put my cup down, I have to chase it before it slides off the top. 😋

My discoveries included:

  • A time sheet for a temp job I didn’t have from 2003. It’s now 2018!
  • A letter dating back to 1984, from Heinz baby food, apologising for the piece of serrated plastic my mum found in my mouth while eating their products. (I’m not getting rid of this!) I choose to believe this was indeed accidental as they claimed, but only 5 years later, the same company were involved in a baby food tampering scandal that involved sickos deliberately putting glass, razor blades and pins in jars of baby food! So I consider myself lucky it wasn’t worse! (Look up 1980’s, glass in baby food!) Luckily for me, my mum watched me like a hawk and has awesome reaction skills! 
  • I also found pretty much every payslip from monthly and fortnightly jobs since I was 18! I’m now 35!
  • Bank and credit card statements for various different accounts since school. (But every time I think of going paperless, someone insists on seeing a statement or bill as proof of I.D.) Also, with the P.P.I. phone bombardment at the moment, it was useful to be able to check back ten years without paying someone else to.
  • Stock take instructions for jobs I no longer have
  • Work training manuals 
  • Birthday, Xmas cards and postcards.
  • Basically… My entire documented life!

How to Decide What to Get Rid of:

I am a sentimental old soul, so parting with things is always difficult. Especially as I come from a family of hoarders. But sometimes you just need to be brutal, for your own good. The clutter in my house means there’s not enough room for me to live comfortably, so its time for change! Below is a list of how I decided what to keep and what to shred.

  • Is it an important document? Put it safely in a folder or safe zone, far away from anything you are going to shred or dispose of.
  • Do you have multiple copies?
  • Can it be scanned and digitised?
  • How old is it? Is it out of date or no longer relevant?
  • Is it interesting? Something you want to hang on to for nostalgia or to pass on to someone else?
  • Is it useful?
  • Could it be useful to someone else? E.g. Old uni notes you can give away.
  • Be sensible about what you throw away forever. If you need to type up or scan a copy on to the computer for peace of mind, do it! Better taking the time, than regret! 

The Benefits of Clearing the Clutter

I’ve successfully cleared an entire drawer in my filing cabinet, some storage boxes and made more space in my room to unpack other belongings, which will either be more useful or also need sorting and whittling down to essentials.

Shredding can actually be quite liberating and very addictive, so be sure about what you are getting rid of forever, you can get carried away! I found it quite freeing to get rid of old paperwork from jobs, people and memories that negatively impacted me, caused me stress or had not been a positive influence on my life. I’ve been dragging around these bags and boxes of old memories, afraid to let them go “just in case”. “What if I need them one day?” This physical baggage has become mental baggage that needs to go! I need to relax and let go of anything that isn’t serving me positively.

Also, recycling is good for the environment! 😉👍♻🌎

What’s Left?

I want to move forward to a happier, less stressful and easier life. As long as I keep important documents like I.D, any medical records, receipts for big purchases, warranties and P60’s etc. Anything sensible that may genuinely be required at a later date, I don’t need to hang on to old training manuals, or every memo and notice I ever wrote during my time as a supervisor. I even still had the contact details and account numbers for the food suppliers we used at my first cinema when I was a stock controller! That cinema was bought out twelve years ago and no longer exists! Why am I hanging on to things that serve me no purpose, bring me no joy, and are taking up room which is currently affecting my quality of life, as I am forever surrounded by bags of junk and memories of stress?

Decluttering and freeing up space, is freeing me mentally and physically. I feel better knowing I am letting go of objects from my past that don’t make me happy and feel like extra weight I’m carrying for no real reason (especially when moving house so often!) I need to learn to be less materialistic and attached to things. To live in the moment, taking photos, writing online and spending time with people I care about, instead of burying myself in things.

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