tackling bigger projects (inspired by the paper piles post)

March 26, 2015

I was going to write about my social life (or ummmm, lack thereof) today, but we’ll table that for perhaps tomorrow or next week.

I really liked hearing your paper organization tips on yesterday’s post.  I’m still undecided as to whether it makes sense to convert to a digital/scanned system.  Honestly, my gut feeling is no.  It sounds like a lot of work, and I think I would find myself saving things digitally that I probably don’t need to save.  Digital clutter counts too!

I think our method will be to mostly just streamline as much as possible.  I know there is a ton of stuff in that cabinet (there’s a whole second drawer beneath the one shown yesterday, and Josh also has a small ‘secondary’ cabinet filled with god-knows-what).  However — Josh posed this question last night — when are we going to do this?

It seems like the psychic energy needed to bust through a project like this would most likely appear on a weekend.  Perhaps a Saturday where we get up and then just organize papers for several hours.  That sounds great, but Cameron would end up eating the papers and Annabel would be wanting to ‘help’ and the whole endeavor would be absolutely impossible.

if I write it, it gets done.  Usually.

This led me to think of potential ways we could tackle the project:

1) Hire a babysitter for time dedicated to do this.  Except I’d rather do something more fun when we have a babysitter.  Like a date night, or even get in a workout (if it’s one of Josh’s call weekends)

2) Do it on a rare day off when our nanny is here.  This one has promise, but those days are few and far between.  I do have a couple of them coming up over the next couple months, though.   Downside is I really would prefer Josh do this project with me — he is a Kon-Mari enabler (i.e., actually HELPS motivate me to get rid of unneeded things!) and of course many of our documents pertain to both of us.

3) Set a timer each night after the kids are in bed for 15 minutes of file sorting.  This would drag the whole thing out, but perhaps we’d be able to make a lot of progress in a month or so.  20 x 15minutes = 5 hours.

How do you like to deal with big projects — especially with kids making long stretches of dedicated time a challenge?  I successfully put together our 2013 photobook last year working in fits and starts, and I’m almost ready to start with 2014.

PS: For Jen, who commented that she was relieved to hear I had paper piles — sorry to disappoint.  BUTTTT of course I do accumulate clutter just like anyone else (even Marie Kondo, probably).  We do have one mild paper explosion zone (shown below) but this is strictly Josh’s stuff.

not pretty!

And, here was my small paper explosion last night, before & after:
almost everything here just needed to be shredded which makes me wonder why it accumulated in the first place
ahhhh much better
also, you never know when you need a Frozen sticker “reward” so those are staying!


  • Reply Monica March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I like to tackle things in small chunks especially when my kids were younger. You’d be surprised how quickly the time adds up. A bonus would be figuring out a system for incoming paper that you deal with immediately and so the pile isn’t really getting bigger. I have always believed the best habit changes happen slowly and deliberately. When your kids hit school age the paper will be overwhelming again, homework, quizzes, tests, worksheets, the lest goes on. When my oldest hit 4th grade I had had it with paper and started going through their papers they brought home each day and then recycling them once they had been marked. Weeks later my son is looking for pieces of a science report that he needed to finish his project. Since those pieces had been graded and I din’t know there was a bigger project they got recycled. oops. The teacher was a good sport and didn’t take off for him not having those papers. I then set aside a shelf in a cabinet in our office where all papers that would be recycled were kept. If we needed something we could look there and at the end of the year I recycled the entire pile. I was out sight and the kids did need to go find something once or twice. There wasn’t any organization to it, the most recent papers went on top but it seemed like a reasonable compromise.

    Could you see the the kids could hand out with grandma & grandpa for a day and you and Josh tackle the problem for a few hours in the morning, then enjoy a nice lunch and maybe even a massage or work out together then get in a few more hours in the afternoon/evening and then head to a nice dinner out? That way the day off wouldn’t be completely devoid of fun, you wouldn’t be spending money on a sitter and you would have a couple of good chunks to get work on the task together. Even just a few hours might be the time you need to get started and then can continue in small chunks throughout the week.

    Just some thoughts. I am constantly fighting my packrat genes and my family can definitely be packrats. We are mostly paperless, which I think makes my husband a little uncomfortable. He prints a lot of receipts that I would just save as pdfs. I just shred them later. We also have all of our tax returns from 22years. I want to get rid of them, but he figures they are filed, so why bother. oy. I’m going to scan them, so he has a copy if he needs it, and then shred it. Our basement is not as big as he thinks it is.

  • Reply oldmdgirl March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    No helpful advice here, though I will say that if you think that is bad, you would probably pass out from the shock and horror if you ever saw my house. My philosophy on big projects these days is not to do them at all and try to forget that there is a life outside work, because that is just too depressing.

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