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English Muse: Drowning in a sea of paper...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Drowning in a sea of paper...

Over the past two days I've been trying to clear out our garage. There's so much paper: old bills, newspapers, xmas cards, photographs, letters. Stacks and stacks of books and magazines...
It's stressing me out!

Maybe there's something to living a paper-free life.

What do you keep and what do you toss? And what about books? Do you keep them forever or give them away after you read them? I have a friend who leaves boxes at the backdoor of her favorite used bookstore late at night. She calls it stealth dumping!

(Photo found on the Internet, somewhere.)


Blogger Kara Vanderbijl said...

the question I always ask myself is, "Will I want to show this to my lover/children/grandchildren?" If the answer is yes, I keep it. If no... well, then, sometimes the bin is best.

There's another old rule my mother taught me: if you haven't used it in six months, it's time to throw it away.

But books are friends... & sometimes you can't read them for years but you still need to look at them and remember. I have kept every book that I have ever owned.

March 3, 2010 at 8:00 AM  
Blogger BarceloMIA said...

I agree with the first comment! Throwing books out is a sin! :) plus even if you don't ever read them again they are perfect for decoration! :) x

March 3, 2010 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger WhimsAndInconsistencies said...

Books and pictures are the two things you just can't have too much of.

March 3, 2010 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Krysta said...

Books and photographs are keepers. Old newspapers? Magazines? Bills that you aren't going to need? Get rid of them!

March 3, 2010 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger Mlle Paradis said...

I did a post about this last fall. I only save mostly picture books and cookbooks. (There are libraries for books you'd like to go back to and share with others.) And magazines! Oh yes I do. But I spent a month before moving recently going through all my mags and throwing out the ones I didn't love, and tearing out pages I wanted to keep. But listen, my feeling is, if it's in the garage, it might as well be in the trash. If you're not LIVING with it, it's not "yours".

March 3, 2010 at 8:38 AM  
Anonymous kimberj said...

I don't know how this advice will fit in... we've been asking our grown daughter to start sorting the boxes and boxes of keepsakes, toys, & just plain stuff that ended up in boxes after every one of our 5 moves. She is 23 and wants to live the simple life. She sorted out the "can't live without's" into one small pile/box. The rest she photographed and loaded onto her computer and mine. Now we're trying to make a chronological history with comments she can access and share with her kids someday. I did pull out some things (school papers, artwork, and toys) that I want to keep. Overall though we took 12 boxes down to 2. Try scanning papers and photos. Other than that call in a professional shredder for $50. I think downsizing done right takes at least a year for every decade you've been married, seriously!

March 3, 2010 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Chaucee said...

Cleaning out garages can be challenging! But I like that tip of dumping the books : P

March 3, 2010 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

I have no meaningful advice except to buy more packing boxes and rent a storage space. Paper, in book and other forms, is life (or at least a wonderful part of it) and you'll be back to thinking so as soon as this move is over. You know you will.

March 3, 2010 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger Kay said...

Books, journals, photos...everything else must go. filing cabinet cleaned after the 1st of the year with anything 3 years past gone. (in other words, hold on to important docs for no more than 3 years--taxes an exception) but even books must be circulated, it's well known anytime someone comes to the house, chances are they will be leaving with a book or two...always replaced quickly with the new reads.

good rule of thumb, if you haven't used it in a year, toss it!

March 3, 2010 at 9:55 AM  
Anonymous tina tarnoff said...

I think I tend to keep everything! And, I can't even imagine what I would have to go through if we were to move. Yikes! I think a moderate approach is better. I would hate to live in a completely minimalist, clutter free ambience, but I'm also starting to dislike the clutter. Good luck with clearing out the house!

Regardng books, there is a sort of tradition in our neighborhood to pass on the books you like. I'm shying away from it still, but I like the idea of it. I got a book from someone, but still haven't gotten aroound to reading it and passing it on!

March 3, 2010 at 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Susan said...

I can't go with the 6 month-1 year rule because it has backfired with terrible consequences in the past.

Articles/clippings to keep pasted/stapled/otherwise affixed into large Utrecht art pads helps. Telling self I can access many sites online if I'm a subscriber (also libraries) also helps. I bought four large see-through storage boxes with lids & am packing them by subject. What I do with them then, not sure yet.

I don't like the idea of storage spaces & would not have anything large enough to start putting big bunches of furniture in or anything; but at a certain age &/or profession, especially if you work at home, some things must be kept unless you have plans to become a Buddhist nun. (Not happening though I know some lovely Buddhist nuns.)

Meanwhile, I would suggest you go corner by corner, small but steady or your photograph is your reality. Or it is & you will start shoving stuff wholesale into bins or you will get rid of it all. Neither is a good option for your work.

A friend recently reminded me, when I called to say "stop me from tossing everything!"...of a Sex & the City episode. Carrie's computer crashes & she doesn't have the manual. Something about a "feng shui period" gone too far:) I was on verge of tossing unopened March magazines, for heaven's sake. And in the middle of that were important tax documents. Need I say more?

When I had an office in the city, I had the equivalent of a studio apt. Even some years later, there's stuff that would go right into another room/office.

BTW: Just rec'd IKEA circular with storage boxes-in-bookcase setup. Will buy the boxes in apple green & white, already have the bookcases. I think it'll work. Good luck!

March 3, 2010 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Laura Trevey said...

I love that photo... it says it all, doesn't it? I feel your pain. We just cleaned out our attic for a third floor addition. Whew! Many trips to the Good Will :)

Good luck!
xoxo Laura

March 3, 2010 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger GinaTricoteur said...

I keep the books and rip out the pages I like from mags and put them in a folder. Once you have cleared it you will feel so great. We are entering a paperless age anyway. All our paper stuff should be on our computers. Many trees will be saved. It's all good..:)

March 3, 2010 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Lucy said...

hey, in response to your zine question, im from England so i read 'station' and 'mind tonic' both of which i get at The Hoxton Boutique in London

March 3, 2010 at 10:29 AM  

It's hard for me to let go of books & magz especially, but they have to go sometimes, heart breaking! Hope you have an oxygen tank nearby darling~


March 3, 2010 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I keep magazines until the next issue comes. Sometimes a little longer if there's something I haven't read yet or something, but usually not much longer. I need to start just ripping out the pages I want to keep and getting rid of the rest. I either recycle them or give them away.

Books I barely ever get rid of. I'll just get rid of it if I read it and disliked it and have no desire to keep it around. But if I read it and liked it, or even was just so-so about it, it stays.

March 3, 2010 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger C said...

When it comes to books I'm a keep forever kind of person. Just can't let go. With everything else I'm a 'keeper' in an entire family of ruthless 'tossers' so I'm still trying to find my inner minimalist! Although, a very good tip is to redecorate often. I've found that re-doing a room forces you to clear out alot of stuff you really don't need. Good luck!!

March 3, 2010 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Joanna Goddard said...

that's so funny about your friend! i sell most books back to used book stores, or i donate them to the library. i only hold on to my absolute favorites.

March 3, 2010 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Daydream Lily said...

Ive been really strict with my clean out. If I dont love it, its going. All the books and mess was stressing me out. I could of sold alot of my book but instead I gave them away to friends and family. Ive only kept my absolute favourites. As for old papers, if they are memories I have a memories box and if they are bills older then a few years Ive thrown them out.

good luck with all your sorting.

March 3, 2010 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Annabelle said...

I have a wonderful tip from my boyfriend's grandma. She keeps all of those lovely cards from her grandchildren, friends etc and uses them as bookmarks in recipe books, so she can find her favourite recipes.

As with the other junk - throw anything that's over 3 years old away. I just moved my bf out to a new apt, must be ruthless!

March 3, 2010 at 3:55 PM  
Blogger Sum said...

haha the whole box idea is brilliant! I love paper too much! I usually keep everything from magazines, birthday cards and books.

March 3, 2010 at 11:37 PM  
Blogger Fleurette said...

I believe in a good spring clean once a year. Mags,books,old clothes, bags,shoes,linen, old cutlery/crockery,ornaments etc is all donated to an old age home where they have a thrift shop.

March 4, 2010 at 12:46 AM  
Blogger Destination Inspiration said...

Ahh Tina I'm afraid I'm not the greatest to give advice, I'm a big time horder..but I do it with great order and neatness. I'm only young so my 'stuff' hasn't had enough years to accumulate I suppose

March 4, 2010 at 12:49 AM  
Blogger Stacey said...

LOL. Stealth-dumping. That's very cute. Unfortunately, when I moved to Georgia, I had to leave my entire book collection in Los Angeles. (The outcome of a bad breakup). I sure miss my hand-me-downs that I never got around to reading and those that I spent new-release shelf prices on. Are books the type of item that you hold very dear and special to you? I do. They're the hardest thing to part with. They represent knowledge, creation, art and retreat for me.

March 4, 2010 at 3:01 PM  

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