Those piles of paper and overflowing files can be tamed!
“I’m coming clean here. Literally. I had piles of paper taking over my spare room that was supposed to be my sweet home office. It desperately needed attention. There were files from the last decade, including my husband’s old papers (he passed away years ago). Boxes overflowed, piles fell over, and the result was stress, stress, stress every time I walked into the room. What I lacked was a system to handle it all. I was inspired to tackle it after Marla Dee came to help me create a vision and plan.
I made this my project for spring and started working my way through the piles using the Clear & SIMPLE Systems© (see below). I sorted first. Then Marla took me through the toss. Honestly, having her at my side talking me through it made all the difference in the world. Next we chose a container for my incoming paper to land until I was ready to deal with it. Lastly, she introduced me to the amazing FreedomFiler System for my action system and all my files, from reference to taxes. I have peace of mind knowing that every type of paper in my space has a home and a system to keep it running smoothly.” W.R.
Why not try The Clear & SIMPLE Way © to transform your paper piles…
SEE IT© – Take a look at where you’ve been
Take 10 minutes to write out what’s working, what’s not working and why. Just let the words come out of you and enjoy the clarity and release.
MAP IT© – Make a plan for what you want
Write a simple vision by asking how you want your paper space to look, feel and function? Get ideas here on our ULTIMATE OFFICE MAP.
DO IT© – Take the steps to get it done
Take it one step at a time using the Clear & SIMPLE System of S.T.A.C.K.S. ©.
Sort first – What is it? Gather the most active papers and sort them first. Keep the labels general in the beginning. Remember like with like. You can sort right into hanging files or bankers boxes with post it note labels. For example: mortgage/rental papers, life insurance, health insurance, auto, monthly utilities, loans, etc.
Toss – Do I keep it or let it go? Give your self permission to recycle or shred the papers that need to go. Get a printable version of our Record Retention Guidelines.
Assign – Where will it go? Sanity starts with capturing the paper as it comes in. Choose a location and container for the incoming paper and drop everything in. It is just like the inbox for your emails. Then get a container for the action papers and 1-2 file drawers for the files you need to keep handy. Check out a printable version of our Paper flow Map for additional support.
Contain – What does it go in? Choose a color of hanging folder that you love along with the powerful FreedomFiler System or another of your choice. Archive papers can just be put in boxes, labeled and stored.
Keep It Up – How do I maintain this? Place all incoming paper and mail into a container then sort once a week into 4 piles – Read, Action, File and Toss, RAFT ©. Take the piles to their appropriate place and then spend 30 minutes just on the ACTION items. FreedomFiler System is the answer again to keep ALL the paper files organized!
Simplify – How can I simplify? Schedule your paper power time each week just like you would the laundry. Also, getting help from a Professional Organizer is always a gift.
We invite you to just start using the tips and tools above. Tackle the active paper piles and let us know what happens.
Marla, Kate & Team
©RAFT, SEE IT. MAP IT. DO IT. & STACKS Copyright Clear & SIMPLE, LLC All rights reserved.
If you aren’t using it, let someone else love it!
Isn’t it amazing how stuff, from paper to toys, keeps coming in and piling up? So much of it isn’t even used but we don’t have the time or energy to deal with all of it. It’s not like you can take a whole month off to go through it all, right? So we want to make it easier for you to clear out what you no longer need or want. Most of us feel better if we can make a little cash and/or support good causes. The short and simple list below is some favorites you can start using today. We have been using these ourselves to clear out yet another layer.
- Let Go – A great app to help you easily sell valuable items along with focusing on your own neighborhood.
- Trash Nothing – For items with less value or those that you want to send to a new home, but want the recipient to receive for free. Join the FreeCycle MOVEMENT now!
- The Container Store & Goodwill – This powerful partnership created the Kiss Clutter Goodbye movement to offer a simple place where you can donate unwanted items and then find container solutions to beautifully organize what you have left. Special Event April 23, 24, 30th around the nation. Check it out!
Personal Story from Marla – this last weekend I set myself FREE of the furniture that was taking up space in my partner Bob’s tool shop. When I moved in with him a year ago, there were things that I just wasn’t ready to let go of yet! Know the feeling? It included my daughter’s sleigh bed from pottery barn, a beautiful white table from the business office I had with my sister many years ago and more… So I used the Let Go app (mentioned above) and SOLD EVERYTHING. I was reminded how joyful it is to see another person get so excited about taking this new item than I no longer need or love.
Here are some additional links for national agencies that will make it easy for you to let go of the stuff that is keeping you stuck!
We would love to hear stories of the joy, freedom and more beyond the hurdle of releasing belongings. Please share with us.
In sacred support and guidance – Marla, Kate & Team
If letting go was easy the clutter wouldn’t be there.
The TOSS can be tough – we so get that! We shared in SORT First. TOSS Later. that sorting everything first, without trying to decide whether or not to keep the items, makes the toss step easier. When you can see exactly what you have and how much, you get clear about whether to keep or release things. Now we want to give you even more support for this challenging step in S.T.A.C.K.S. © (Sort, Toss, Assign, Keep it up, Simplify).
Here are our top ten tips to make letting go easier:
- Let go only when you are ready. To force the TOSS step is abusive whether we are doing it to ourselves or to someone else. If you let go of even 5% of your things you will free space for the new to come in. From Marla – I learned this from my meditation teacher Mary Nickel, of Time Out Associates, who helped me see that I couldn’t clear a lifetime’s worth of buildup in my body in a 2-hour session or even in 3 months. I have been meditating for 21 years and I still need a clean out every day.
- Let your vision support you. Ask the question, “Does this support my current vision?” If not, be willing to let it go. It is powerful to print your vision and put it on a wall so you can see it often!
- Find an Agency you care about supporting. Let go of the idea that you have to figure out where everything is going. Keep it simple and find one agency that is meaningful to you and donate your things to them. If you have unique, valuable items, trust that someone is willing to help you.
- Believe in win-win. Choose Trust over Fear. Look to the gift that you are passing on to others who will love what you no longer need or want. One of our favorite stories is about a client who kept getting stuck on this step because all of her items were so valuable. They represented thousands of dollars of her time, energy and money. But the stuff was paralyzing her. Finally, the day came when she had to let go. She called in sick, sat still, went deep inside, and called out for inspiration. Within minutes, she jumped up and started hauling all the stuff outside to the front yard. She took it all out along with a big sign that said FREE. Then she sat in her living room all day and spied on the people finding treasures. She let herself witness their joy and delight. It set her free. It was a beautiful way to honor the value of what she was letting go. She was then able to start a meaningful new chapter of her life.
- Trust your body to tell you. A simple exercise is to hold the object, close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask for a Yes or No. If your answer is yes, you will feel your body lift and expand. You will feel a YES. If your answer is NO, your body will sink or get heavy or tired. This tells you that the object is draining your life force. It is time to let it go. This works well with clutter clearing tasks also.
- One box, one pile, or one type of item at a time. This will support you in staying present and keep you free of distraction. Keep the other piles hidden in covered banker’s boxes.
- Ask the question “Does this serve me in the current chapter of my life?” Remember all of our clutter tells a story. Is this clutter from a past chapter that you are ready to close so you can get on with the new?
- Always do the TOSS step when you are fresh. Because this step takes so much energy, it is important to give yourself a chance of success by having as much energy as possible.
- Have a temporary staging area. If you can’t let it go and don’t want to keep it, give yourself permission to have a temporary staging box or area. Then choose how long. We suggest no longer than 3 months.
- Lastly, get help if you need it. We have other professional organizers come into our homes seasonally and support us in letting go of what builds up. Because it is our own stuff, it is very challenging for us. If you would like support from a professional organizer, check out NAPO and UPO.
Remember all choices boil down to FEAR or TRUST! You can trust to let go of what no longer supports you and that you will have what you need when you need it.
We want you to live free of clutter and replace it with meaning.
Marla, Kate & Team
The key is ONE question at a time and one decision at a time!
The TOSS (the letting go) is the most loaded step of clutter clearing and organizing. If we could do it easily then the piles of stuff wouldn’t be filling up our space. It is often the emotional attachment with the stuff, the story it tells, and the overwhelm of just too much everywhere that keeps us procrastinating going through it.
Here are some of the struggles we hear all the time. I can go through other people’s stuff but not my own. Why is it so hard? I get stuck as soon as I start going through it, especially if I’m touching it. It is overwhelming – I don’t know where to start. My basement is full of my mother’s things. HELP!!
This is why we love the system of S.T.A.C.K.S. © for getting through the stuff. Remember, in the blog Sort First. Toss Later. you were asked to sort first so you can see what you have. The steps of S.T.A.C.K.S. © build upon each other. In the SORT step you are only asking what is it? When you are done you have a clear picture of how much you have – how many months worth of electric bills, how many of the same black shirt, how many pens & pencils, or the same garden tool. Now the TOSS step is easier.
TOSS – here is more guidance:
- Question: Do I need it or want it? It is amazing how often we keep things we don’t even want or need.
- Power Question: Does this item support my vision for this space and this time in my life? Honor the chapter you are in!
- Action: Put it in the keep or discard pile. If using bankers boxes then leave the item in the box and have bags/boxes ready for the give-away, shred, garbage, elsewhere toss categories so it goes quickly.
- Tip: Remember you used bankers boxes in the sort so just take ONE box at a time when going through the toss. This will save you from distractions and confusion.
- Reward: You will get through the toss quicker and with less energy. What you have left is what needs to be organized.
By asking just one question and making only one decision at a time, you WILL be able to get through all of the stuff. And you are still not asking where it will go or what it will go in. Those steps are ahead.
We want to be clear that we know with every fiber of our beings just how loaded the Toss step can be. It is SO loaded that Marla wrote a simple, yet powerhouse little guide called The ART of Letting Go. Please download this free gift and share it with anyone you feel may benefit.
Stay tuned in upcoming weeks as we continue through the S.T.A.C.K.S. © process.
Download our Systems Card as a companion guide to SEE IT. MAP IT. DO IT. © and S.T.A.C.K.S. ©.
With you each step of the way,
Marla, Kate & Team