At the beginning of March, prior to quarantine, I did two things which were important to me in the present and would be equally important to me and others, in the future.
#1. I updated my will, which consequently led me to #2. buying a shredder.
It wouldn’t be uncommon that the last time you reviewed your will and VIP documents was when you came upon them while looking for something else or adding something to the mix. You may have even pulled it out, paged through, skimmed the contents, popped it back into the envelope and filed it back away.
Which pretty much sums up how I came to be doing my own revision and update.
Some of documents which I deemed VIP ten plus years ago, were VIP then. Looking at the contents in the present day it was easy to see some of what I had been keeping was no longer worthy of the VIP status, anymore.
We are all accustomed to sharing our own and seeing others’ status updates on social media. Those statuses are fluid and ever changing.
It’s the status of the things we’ve held on to, the things tucked away, stored, boxed and filed, that stay the same, because they are the opposite of fluid.
But we are.
The contents of those boxes hasn’t changed since you last packed them away.
But you have.
You and your life have evolved in either subtle or perhaps dramatic ways. When you revisit your stuff, as you are skimming it, paging through it you are doing so with different eyes. From this current perspective you will determine and know what and how the content’s value has shifted from then to now.
Hence, buying the shredder.
Time can be on your side when decluttering your documents.
Tax filings and their corresponding back up documents, in particular, have an expiration date. A few years ago, I started adding that date to the file folder, so I knew a) what tax year it was for and b) when I was no longer required to keep it.
A quick google search confirmed I had dated them correctly, even adding an extra year for good measure.
Then I plugged in the shredder!
I knew before I opened the VIP files that I had multiple copies of things that I needed then; but now not so much.
During my process I edited and kept the original and only one copy, adding the balance to the shred pile.
Redundancy takes up space and creates clutter–and then I realized that some of what I had on paper I also had another copy…electronically. UGH!
External hard drives and thumb drives, which were critical a decade ago, are of little use with the access to Cloud storage. Alas, if it helps you to feel more secure, take those electronic copies and transfer them onto a thumb drive for peace of mind.
Jotting down a brief note describing the contents on your thumb or hard drive, gives you the information you need at a glance. Just as labeling your folders does for easy reference. Keep it simple and easy for yourself.
How would putting this effort in now help you in the present and be more efficient in the future?
My general files weren’t immune to my efforts, coming across some old invoices for services I no longer had, from homes I no longer lived in. I had been holding onto a cache of outdated power bills, mobile phone statements and bank statements for accounts which had been closed.
(My new shredder got quite the workout!)
There are a host of justifications that you can come up with not to address your clutter. After all, clutter can be confrontational.
The specific contents of your filing cabinet has a “for your eyes only” private status. Which I am not denying or negating.
“I did two things which were important to me in the present and would be important to me but mostly others, in the future.”
My motivation to update, edit and organize the contents of my filing cabinet were equal parts for me, in the present, and for me and my trusted successors, in the future. I believe that I am a very long way away from anyone else needing to be privy to my VIP or other files. The fact remains, that day will come.
This is not a call for you to ‘get your affairs in order’. However, the onslaught of Covid-19 has potentially for some and undoubtedly for many, brought up uncomfortable thoughts about one’s mortality. Taking care of ourselves, our loved ones and our things, is something we can do, while there are so many things that we can not.
Condensing files, culling old stuff, labeling and adding notes and messages makes sense and is efficient. Putting in the effort now makes it easier for me, and that flows into being easier in the future.
Can I tell you shredding all that excess was not only a security measure but truly satisfying!
How would reviewing, editing and organizing your important documents make things easier for you in the present? Would it make things easier for you & others in the future? Isn’t it empowering to know when you open the box or drawer knowing what you are looking for is at your fingertips? Think about how it will feel when you are done…relief, accomplished, proud and a whole bunch of GOODNESS!
Be gentle with yourself, always.