On Sunday afternoon I started a large project to empty out my storeroom, throw out unwanted things, then organize the things I need to keep. Because there is so much stuff stashed away, I decided to tackle the project in stages. The first stage was to empty out the stuff shown in the left side of the photo on the left. There is a bookshelf groaning under the weight of paper and folders.
I am writing this Tuesday and have nearly put things back into this section. Now you can see the bookshelf in the right hand picture and a selection of folders arranged in a plastic box. The top bookshelf holds power tools and the lower shelves now hold photos and folders.
Because I have several bookshelves I have catalogued the contents in an Excel spreadsheet. Each shelf has a unique location code, and I make lists of the contents of each folder. Locating a book is just a matter of searching the spreadsheet to find the location, then fetching the book.
I attached a wooden door (which just happened to be in the garden shed) to the wall so I can hammer in nails to use to hand tools.
So what was all the stuff I had accumulated over the years?
Scrapbooks. Since 1969 I have made a habit of keeping important newspaper articles and pasting into scrapbooks. I have photographs of the Apollo 11 moon landing, book reviews, film reviews, news items, interviews and much more. Some of the scrapbooks can be soon next to the cupboard at the left. They have been put aside for the moment.
Photocopies. Over the years I have often photocopied book extracts for later reference. I used to subscribe to Time Magazine and would rip out “interesting articles” for later reference. Usually I never look at them again!
Old Tax returns. I bundle each tax year into a cardboard wallet and label it clearly. Tax documents only need to be kept for 5 years, and I found 3 years of documents to shred.
What lessons did I learn from clearing out the junk?
Do it Now! When I am interested in a subject, immerse myself in the reading materials and enjoy it now. Don’t accumulate things for later as I will have moved on to something else in the future. Get full value from the project at hand.
Tax Returns. Keep the financial records together in a known location and shred the oldest package when I store the latest tax return materials.
Everything in its place and a place for everything. This is an important motto for organisation which I often forget. I need to know where things are so I can find them quickly. Once I tidy out the tool cupboard I will store some of the tools on the pegboard.
Be very careful about what to keep. Ask myself, do I really need to keep this item? Why am I keeping it?
There are many more boxes to take out and check the contents. I will select books to donate to the Lifeline Book fair or throw out books which have no value or irrelevant. Computer books about old versions of software don’t need to be kept!
Here is a preview of the next section of tidying: boxes of books, videos, two photographic enlargers, diskettes (mostly Macintosh), Zip disks and Zip drive, and goodness knows what else.