I Need Help With My Piles – Piles of Procrastination That Is!

Help I’m struggling!

I’m a struggling recovering sentimental hoarder with an aspiration to become a minimalist and beat the demons within that have over the years made me keep car park tickets, receipts and all types of worthless and pointless paper items.

No New Years Resolutions for me, rather I decided to take the bull by the horns and address my years of sentimental hoarding (mainly paper) and clear it by the end of January.

I hold my hands up – I have failed.  

The piles of procrastination did come out of the closet – yes literally out of the closet at the start of the year, but not again looked at until the 5th February, and now they are in mini piles around my living room.

I expected blood, sweat and tears but actually have encountered inertia. I cannot get moving.

The plan… oh yes there is a plan… is that I will keep certain items and scrapbook them. I have two pink scrapbooks and two blue to store all the Children’s artwork, memorabilia etc… They are rather large scrapbooks, but I am hoping that they will cover 18 years of their life each.
There is a much more explanatory post planned on the how and why, but that was/is planned for when I have true before and after photos on how I beat my arch-enemy ‘paper’ and in particular paper with potentially sentimental things on it – the evil that it is!
For now I will leave you with an image that you may cause major stress to minimalists and neat freaks – You have been warned! Look away if in any doubt as to your capacity to deal with this distressing image…
(p.s this is just 6 years worth – the previous 12 years of sentimental hoarding is scrapbooked and contained within blue box shown in photo – I know I have issues – that is given…)
{ 78 comments… add one }
  • Gip @ So Much More Life February 7, 2011, 11:31 pm

    One piece at a time… that’s the way to tackle it. Keep trash cans everywhere and throw away one thing at a time. Scan in photos you like a little and ditch the hard copies… You’ll never have to touch that item again or move it around. Condense the stuff you can’t manage without into fewer containers and try again in a few weeks or months if you have to.

    You have the rest of your life to get this done.

    Gip

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 1:24 pm

      Gosh I hope it gets done quicker than that haha! You are so right – there’s a ‘one touch’ rule which I am trying to obey, so I don’t paper shuffle. I need a system!

  • Gip @ So Much More Life February 7, 2011, 11:31 pm

    One piece at a time… that’s the way to tackle it. Keep trash cans everywhere and throw away one thing at a time. Scan in photos you like a little and ditch the hard copies… You’ll never have to touch that item again or move it around. Condense the stuff you can’t manage without into fewer containers and try again in a few weeks or months if you have to.

    You have the rest of your life to get this done.

    Gip

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 1:24 pm

      Gosh I hope it gets done quicker than that haha! You are so right – there’s a ‘one touch’ rule which I am trying to obey, so I don’t paper shuffle. I need a system!

  • Gip @ So Much More Life February 7, 2011, 11:31 pm

    One piece at a time… that’s the way to tackle it. Keep trash cans everywhere and throw away one thing at a time. Scan in photos you like a little and ditch the hard copies… You’ll never have to touch that item again or move it around. Condense the stuff you can’t manage without into fewer containers and try again in a few weeks or months if you have to.

    You have the rest of your life to get this done.

    Gip

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 1:24 pm

      Gosh I hope it gets done quicker than that haha! You are so right – there’s a ‘one touch’ rule which I am trying to obey, so I don’t paper shuffle. I need a system!

  • Rayna@The Suburban Minimalist February 8, 2011, 1:21 am

    I agree with Gip (he has lots of good tips!). And I have to tell you: This doesn’t look that bad at all! It’s really very manageable. You can do it. Baby steps.

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 11:56 am

      I think the photo is deceiving – they are pretty big boxes. In fact I can’t lift one of them! Considering it’s all paper that’s a lot to go through. Thank you though you are so kind…it has made me feel better. I will take your advice, small steps – I know that’s the key… It will get done!

  • Rayna@The Suburban Minimalist February 8, 2011, 1:21 am

    I agree with Gip (he has lots of good tips!). And I have to tell you: This doesn’t look that bad at all! It’s really very manageable. You can do it. Baby steps.

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 11:56 am

      I think the photo is deceiving – they are pretty big boxes. In fact I can’t lift one of them! Considering it’s all paper that’s a lot to go through. Thank you though you are so kind…it has made me feel better. I will take your advice, small steps – I know that’s the key… It will get done!

  • Rayna@The Suburban Minimalist February 8, 2011, 1:21 am

    I agree with Gip (he has lots of good tips!). And I have to tell you: This doesn’t look that bad at all! It’s really very manageable. You can do it. Baby steps.

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 11:56 am

      I think the photo is deceiving – they are pretty big boxes. In fact I can’t lift one of them! Considering it’s all paper that’s a lot to go through. Thank you though you are so kind…it has made me feel better. I will take your advice, small steps – I know that’s the key… It will get done!

  • Deb - Life Beyond Stuff February 8, 2011, 6:33 am

    This does not sound like the usually very organised you?
    Gip’s advice is sound. If you like it, photograph it then trash it. My problem is dealing with the inertia that is stopping me putting all my photos onto the cloud. If the hard drive on my ancient (shhhh she might be listening) laptop crashes I’m in big trouble!

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 12:12 pm

      I know shocking isn’t it! It’s the only problem area – I have hardly any clothes and my kitchen/food is organised as you know. Scanning is good, but theres just something about having a physical piece of paper in my hand. I obviously do have some odd fetish! I have had to restrict paper coming into the house. I have stopped buying greetings cards for the hubby etc due to my inability to dispose of them after (also he has brainwashed me into believing they are a waste of money – he’s an accountant!). I too am a little apprehensive of trusting technology to save all my memories.I’ve had two PC’s crash and nearly take the lot previously.

  • Deb - Life Beyond Stuff February 8, 2011, 6:33 am

    This does not sound like the usually very organised you?
    Gip’s advice is sound. If you like it, photograph it then trash it. My problem is dealing with the inertia that is stopping me putting all my photos onto the cloud. If the hard drive on my ancient (shhhh she might be listening) laptop crashes I’m in big trouble!

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 12:12 pm

      I know shocking isn’t it! It’s the only problem area – I have hardly any clothes and my kitchen/food is organised as you know. Scanning is good, but theres just something about having a physical piece of paper in my hand. I obviously do have some odd fetish! I have had to restrict paper coming into the house. I have stopped buying greetings cards for the hubby etc due to my inability to dispose of them after (also he has brainwashed me into believing they are a waste of money – he’s an accountant!). I too am a little apprehensive of trusting technology to save all my memories.I’ve had two PC’s crash and nearly take the lot previously.

  • Deb - Life Beyond Stuff February 8, 2011, 6:33 am

    This does not sound like the usually very organised you?
    Gip’s advice is sound. If you like it, photograph it then trash it. My problem is dealing with the inertia that is stopping me putting all my photos onto the cloud. If the hard drive on my ancient (shhhh she might be listening) laptop crashes I’m in big trouble!

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 12:12 pm

      I know shocking isn’t it! It’s the only problem area – I have hardly any clothes and my kitchen/food is organised as you know. Scanning is good, but theres just something about having a physical piece of paper in my hand. I obviously do have some odd fetish! I have had to restrict paper coming into the house. I have stopped buying greetings cards for the hubby etc due to my inability to dispose of them after (also he has brainwashed me into believing they are a waste of money – he’s an accountant!). I too am a little apprehensive of trusting technology to save all my memories.I’ve had two PC’s crash and nearly take the lot previously.

  • theminimalistmom February 8, 2011, 3:28 pm

    I laughed out loud reading your comment about the notebook with your daughter’s first month of consumption/expulsion notes.
    I agree with others, this doesn’t look too bad. And again, start small. Maybe just a few things gone will help you get rid of the rest?
    We have very little tucked away for another child but a few months ago I sorted one of the boxes. I pulled out a newborn size sleeper and cried. Maybe letting go of these things now will help us when they are older and leaving home?

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 4:10 pm

      That’s the perfect description -consumption/expulsion – much more succinct. Rachel you are a minimalist even with your words! I may borrow the term when I post the photo. Don’t mention them leaving home – mine won’t be allowed to 🙂

  • theminimalistmom February 8, 2011, 3:28 pm

    I laughed out loud reading your comment about the notebook with your daughter’s first month of consumption/expulsion notes.
    I agree with others, this doesn’t look too bad. And again, start small. Maybe just a few things gone will help you get rid of the rest?
    We have very little tucked away for another child but a few months ago I sorted one of the boxes. I pulled out a newborn size sleeper and cried. Maybe letting go of these things now will help us when they are older and leaving home?

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 4:10 pm

      That’s the perfect description -consumption/expulsion – much more succinct. Rachel you are a minimalist even with your words! I may borrow the term when I post the photo. Don’t mention them leaving home – mine won’t be allowed to 🙂

  • theminimalistmom February 8, 2011, 3:28 pm

    I laughed out loud reading your comment about the notebook with your daughter’s first month of consumption/expulsion notes.
    I agree with others, this doesn’t look too bad. And again, start small. Maybe just a few things gone will help you get rid of the rest?
    We have very little tucked away for another child but a few months ago I sorted one of the boxes. I pulled out a newborn size sleeper and cried. Maybe letting go of these things now will help us when they are older and leaving home?

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 4:10 pm

      That’s the perfect description -consumption/expulsion – much more succinct. Rachel you are a minimalist even with your words! I may borrow the term when I post the photo. Don’t mention them leaving home – mine won’t be allowed to 🙂

  • Sandra February 8, 2011, 5:57 pm

    I’m an aspiring minimalist. If you take a look around my house you wouldn’t guess it. Every week is like starting over for me. Thanks for sharing. Your picture wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be 🙂 And reading about others trying to tackle things one at a time helps me stay motivated. Thanks!

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 8:16 pm

      There’s no finish line is there? I was doing amazingly – my house at Christmas looked amazing, then slowly the clutter started to creep back in… I am really pleased everyone isn’t horrified at my photo. Perhaps I am a minimalist after all because it looks like a mountain of stuff to me! I too like to hear others stories as you are right – it keeps us aspiring minimalists on track 😉

  • Sandra February 8, 2011, 5:57 pm

    I’m an aspiring minimalist. If you take a look around my house you wouldn’t guess it. Every week is like starting over for me. Thanks for sharing. Your picture wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be 🙂 And reading about others trying to tackle things one at a time helps me stay motivated. Thanks!

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 8:16 pm

      There’s no finish line is there? I was doing amazingly – my house at Christmas looked amazing, then slowly the clutter started to creep back in… I am really pleased everyone isn’t horrified at my photo. Perhaps I am a minimalist after all because it looks like a mountain of stuff to me! I too like to hear others stories as you are right – it keeps us aspiring minimalists on track 😉

  • Sandra February 8, 2011, 5:57 pm

    I’m an aspiring minimalist. If you take a look around my house you wouldn’t guess it. Every week is like starting over for me. Thanks for sharing. Your picture wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be 🙂 And reading about others trying to tackle things one at a time helps me stay motivated. Thanks!

    • simplybeingmum February 8, 2011, 8:16 pm

      There’s no finish line is there? I was doing amazingly – my house at Christmas looked amazing, then slowly the clutter started to creep back in… I am really pleased everyone isn’t horrified at my photo. Perhaps I am a minimalist after all because it looks like a mountain of stuff to me! I too like to hear others stories as you are right – it keeps us aspiring minimalists on track 😉

  • Jo February 9, 2011, 5:06 am

    This method works for me, and maybe it will help someone else too. Separate into piles – one pile for the really really good stuff and one pile for everything else. Then put the “everything else” pile away for a few weeks. If at the end of that time you can remember specific things you want to take back, then do so. If not, perhaps everything there could go out the door. With this strategy, I know the things haven’t gone right away, and if there is something memorable in that other pile, I can always get it out. Sometimes the “really really good stuff” can also be given a second look – some things may not seem so appealing the second time around.

    New to your blog, but love your ideas, particularly the No Waste Tastes Great concept. It’s been a help to me already.

    • simplybeingmum February 9, 2011, 3:57 pm

      Cheers Jo (a fellow Jo!) – this is a fab idea. I do do this with the kids toys, as I would hate to throw something they do love, but if they don’t ask for it again it gets donated/binned. It probably is something I should try with my sentimental hoarding, as it will speed up the decision making process of what to keep in the first instance, knowing that it isn’t final and I can retrieve. You are right much of what I pack away will never be looked at again. Jo
      🙂

  • Jo February 9, 2011, 5:06 am

    This method works for me, and maybe it will help someone else too. Separate into piles – one pile for the really really good stuff and one pile for everything else. Then put the “everything else” pile away for a few weeks. If at the end of that time you can remember specific things you want to take back, then do so. If not, perhaps everything there could go out the door. With this strategy, I know the things haven’t gone right away, and if there is something memorable in that other pile, I can always get it out. Sometimes the “really really good stuff” can also be given a second look – some things may not seem so appealing the second time around.

    New to your blog, but love your ideas, particularly the No Waste Tastes Great concept. It’s been a help to me already.

    • simplybeingmum February 9, 2011, 3:57 pm

      Cheers Jo (a fellow Jo!) – this is a fab idea. I do do this with the kids toys, as I would hate to throw something they do love, but if they don’t ask for it again it gets donated/binned. It probably is something I should try with my sentimental hoarding, as it will speed up the decision making process of what to keep in the first instance, knowing that it isn’t final and I can retrieve. You are right much of what I pack away will never be looked at again. Jo
      🙂

  • Jo February 9, 2011, 5:06 am

    This method works for me, and maybe it will help someone else too. Separate into piles – one pile for the really really good stuff and one pile for everything else. Then put the “everything else” pile away for a few weeks. If at the end of that time you can remember specific things you want to take back, then do so. If not, perhaps everything there could go out the door. With this strategy, I know the things haven’t gone right away, and if there is something memorable in that other pile, I can always get it out. Sometimes the “really really good stuff” can also be given a second look – some things may not seem so appealing the second time around.

    New to your blog, but love your ideas, particularly the No Waste Tastes Great concept. It’s been a help to me already.

    • simplybeingmum February 9, 2011, 3:57 pm

      Cheers Jo (a fellow Jo!) – this is a fab idea. I do do this with the kids toys, as I would hate to throw something they do love, but if they don’t ask for it again it gets donated/binned. It probably is something I should try with my sentimental hoarding, as it will speed up the decision making process of what to keep in the first instance, knowing that it isn’t final and I can retrieve. You are right much of what I pack away will never be looked at again. Jo
      🙂

  • marianney | A Life Set Free February 11, 2011, 5:35 pm

    Ah Jo, I am just like you! I am an aspiring minimalist with piles and piles of paper and procrastination! I was just starting a post about that the other day actually 😉

    But Gip is right. The key is to scan everything and then get rid of the physical one. MY problem is finding the time to scan everything! haha

  • marianney | A Life Set Free February 11, 2011, 5:35 pm

    Ah Jo, I am just like you! I am an aspiring minimalist with piles and piles of paper and procrastination! I was just starting a post about that the other day actually 😉

    But Gip is right. The key is to scan everything and then get rid of the physical one. MY problem is finding the time to scan everything! haha

  • marianney | A Life Set Free February 11, 2011, 5:35 pm

    Ah Jo, I am just like you! I am an aspiring minimalist with piles and piles of paper and procrastination! I was just starting a post about that the other day actually 😉

    But Gip is right. The key is to scan everything and then get rid of the physical one. MY problem is finding the time to scan everything! haha

  • Kat @ Kat Simplified February 14, 2011, 6:28 pm

    Ok, I’ll admit it your boxes and bins made me twitchy! I’m really no better. I have 4 large bins: pictures; genealogy and heritage pictures; son’s art work, report cards, etc.; and my letters, report cards and keepsakes. I too have this problem with wanting to physically feel the paper, smell the crayons. I talk and think about scanning everything but am stuck and not moving forward. Good luck to you!

    • simplybeingmum February 14, 2011, 6:52 pm

      Thanks Kat – I am going to get cracking. I have been reading Francine’s book The Joy of Less for further motivation and I am in the mood to go into battle!

  • Kat @ Kat Simplified February 14, 2011, 6:28 pm

    Ok, I’ll admit it your boxes and bins made me twitchy! I’m really no better. I have 4 large bins: pictures; genealogy and heritage pictures; son’s art work, report cards, etc.; and my letters, report cards and keepsakes. I too have this problem with wanting to physically feel the paper, smell the crayons. I talk and think about scanning everything but am stuck and not moving forward. Good luck to you!

    • simplybeingmum February 14, 2011, 6:52 pm

      Thanks Kat – I am going to get cracking. I have been reading Francine’s book The Joy of Less for further motivation and I am in the mood to go into battle!

  • Kat @ Kat Simplified February 14, 2011, 6:28 pm

    Ok, I’ll admit it your boxes and bins made me twitchy! I’m really no better. I have 4 large bins: pictures; genealogy and heritage pictures; son’s art work, report cards, etc.; and my letters, report cards and keepsakes. I too have this problem with wanting to physically feel the paper, smell the crayons. I talk and think about scanning everything but am stuck and not moving forward. Good luck to you!

    • simplybeingmum February 14, 2011, 6:52 pm

      Thanks Kat – I am going to get cracking. I have been reading Francine’s book The Joy of Less for further motivation and I am in the mood to go into battle!

  • Karen (scotland) March 4, 2011, 9:03 am

    At least you have it all sitting in a pile – that’s one step better than it being tucked into a wardrobe and being ignored? I find a pile of something will eventually bug me so much that I WILL do something about it, even if I really can’t face it – it’s the constant reminder of a task unfinished.
    Although the “touch once” rule makes sense, you might find that if you go through things again in even a few months, there will be more paper you can give up. So maybe don’t stick it all in the scrapbooks until you’re at the eventual final selection. I keep the kids’ stuff in polypockets in ringbinders just now. Every half year or so, I go through and filter out a wee bit more. I figure the kids will thank me if I hand over a core collection of memorablia (first drawing, first decent colouring-in, first letters, first tickets) rather than EVERY piece of paper and ticket from their 18 years.
    Sorry, this is a bit longer than I meant it to be. 🙂
    Karen (Scotland)

    • simplybeingmum March 4, 2011, 7:20 pm

      Thank you Karen what a fantastic reply – loads to think about. I have had the piles sitting on my table now for a month, I have got to address it.
      Feeling newly inspired so will tackle again tomorrow and update! thanks again Jo

  • Karen (scotland) March 4, 2011, 9:03 am

    At least you have it all sitting in a pile – that’s one step better than it being tucked into a wardrobe and being ignored? I find a pile of something will eventually bug me so much that I WILL do something about it, even if I really can’t face it – it’s the constant reminder of a task unfinished.
    Although the “touch once” rule makes sense, you might find that if you go through things again in even a few months, there will be more paper you can give up. So maybe don’t stick it all in the scrapbooks until you’re at the eventual final selection. I keep the kids’ stuff in polypockets in ringbinders just now. Every half year or so, I go through and filter out a wee bit more. I figure the kids will thank me if I hand over a core collection of memorablia (first drawing, first decent colouring-in, first letters, first tickets) rather than EVERY piece of paper and ticket from their 18 years.
    Sorry, this is a bit longer than I meant it to be. 🙂
    Karen (Scotland)

    • simplybeingmum March 4, 2011, 7:20 pm

      Thank you Karen what a fantastic reply – loads to think about. I have had the piles sitting on my table now for a month, I have got to address it.
      Feeling newly inspired so will tackle again tomorrow and update! thanks again Jo

  • Karen (scotland) March 4, 2011, 9:03 am

    At least you have it all sitting in a pile – that’s one step better than it being tucked into a wardrobe and being ignored? I find a pile of something will eventually bug me so much that I WILL do something about it, even if I really can’t face it – it’s the constant reminder of a task unfinished.
    Although the “touch once” rule makes sense, you might find that if you go through things again in even a few months, there will be more paper you can give up. So maybe don’t stick it all in the scrapbooks until you’re at the eventual final selection. I keep the kids’ stuff in polypockets in ringbinders just now. Every half year or so, I go through and filter out a wee bit more. I figure the kids will thank me if I hand over a core collection of memorablia (first drawing, first decent colouring-in, first letters, first tickets) rather than EVERY piece of paper and ticket from their 18 years.
    Sorry, this is a bit longer than I meant it to be. 🙂
    Karen (Scotland)

    • simplybeingmum March 4, 2011, 7:20 pm

      Thank you Karen what a fantastic reply – loads to think about. I have had the piles sitting on my table now for a month, I have got to address it.
      Feeling newly inspired so will tackle again tomorrow and update! thanks again Jo

  • Shelley March 17, 2011, 8:14 pm

    Jo – rather than trying to deal with everything all at once – pick one pile, box, etc..try maybe scanning 7 items, keep the “good” things (in a box for now) and dispose of the rest.

    If 7 is too many, try 5, 3 or even just 1 item..each new day gives you a new chance (and I don’t know if this could be tacked onto another routine you have, but you already seem very organized). This way it becomes a reward, not a punishment.

    Regards,

    Shelley

    • simplybeingmum July 11, 2011, 7:22 am

      Hi Shelley I have revisited this post of mine as I am about to attack the piles once more. I missed your comment first time round somehow? I think you are right routine is key. I may adopt my 7 day rule as I do with food, identify a pile and work through it within 7 days…

  • Shelley March 17, 2011, 8:14 pm

    Jo – rather than trying to deal with everything all at once – pick one pile, box, etc..try maybe scanning 7 items, keep the “good” things (in a box for now) and dispose of the rest.

    If 7 is too many, try 5, 3 or even just 1 item..each new day gives you a new chance (and I don’t know if this could be tacked onto another routine you have, but you already seem very organized). This way it becomes a reward, not a punishment.

    Regards,

    Shelley

    • simplybeingmum July 11, 2011, 7:22 am

      Hi Shelley I have revisited this post of mine as I am about to attack the piles once more. I missed your comment first time round somehow? I think you are right routine is key. I may adopt my 7 day rule as I do with food, identify a pile and work through it within 7 days…

  • Shelley March 17, 2011, 8:14 pm

    Jo – rather than trying to deal with everything all at once – pick one pile, box, etc..try maybe scanning 7 items, keep the “good” things (in a box for now) and dispose of the rest.

    If 7 is too many, try 5, 3 or even just 1 item..each new day gives you a new chance (and I don’t know if this could be tacked onto another routine you have, but you already seem very organized). This way it becomes a reward, not a punishment.

    Regards,

    Shelley

    • simplybeingmum July 11, 2011, 7:22 am

      Hi Shelley I have revisited this post of mine as I am about to attack the piles once more. I missed your comment first time round somehow? I think you are right routine is key. I may adopt my 7 day rule as I do with food, identify a pile and work through it within 7 days…

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