Saturday, January 3, 2015

Simple, not easy

Katie Klein recently reminded me about the blog, and I particularly like this post. Especially, "Your decluttering journey is not a race," and, "Don’t let perfect become the enemy of better. The first time you go through your home, you won’t remove all the clutter. You’ll keep stuff that didn’t need to be kept. ... You may even remove a thing or two you’ll end up wishing you had kept. But you will make progress."

I was reading a bunch of blogs on minimalism and decluttering, and I became aware that it is possible to get perfectionistic and competitive (as with anything in life, I suppose). For me, decluttering is an attempt to simplify, to make my life more relaxed, not more rigid. So I won't make rules about exactly how much stuff I will discard or keep, or exactly when I will do it. As long as I'm still making progress and feeling good about the changes, I'll continue as steadily as I can.

I've also seen some recommendations to convert as much as possible to digital. I have mixed feelings about this. For some people, I'm sure that going digital is a useful decluttering tool. Digital books and files surely take up less physical space than their paper equivalents. And I'll always be grateful for the ease in revising, copying, and distributing digital documents--to me, this is the major advantage of a computer over a typewriter.

But for storage and for actionable documents (such as bills), I personally don't find digital to be The Answer. Aside from the security issues, I actually find paper documents easier to manage, easier to track, easier to see. One thing I'm noticing about the simplified organizational methods I'm encountering is that they recommend storing your stuff in such a way that it's all visible at a glance, to keep things simple and accessible. For me, that means paper files rather than computer files. In fact, digital clutter is as much of a problem for me as physical-object clutter. I have lots of stuff on my computer that I just want to clear out. (Apparently I'm not alone. Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray blogged about digital clutter issues such as "e-hoarding" and paring down email.) Digital may be the solution for many people; if so, more power to them. But I see the potential for digital clutter to be a problem, too.

For me, having to hold on to a document at all is a much bigger issue than whether I'm storing it physicall or digitally. Either method of storage is a small weight on my mind; it's another thing to keep track of. I'm best served by keeping only what I need.

And for writers, documents are a big deal, whether they're paper or digital. Not only do we have stories and story ideas and research notes and character sketches and critique notes and everything connected with the creative process, we also have contracts and receipts and royalty statements and business cards and tax documents and various items associated with the business side. I've decided that dealing with these papers will be a little farther down my list of priorities. First I'm tackling low-hanging fruit like clothes and shoes and linens. Books will be another tough category to weed, but I return to the reminder I quoted at the top of this blog post. It's not a race, and all I have to do is keep making progress.


  1. I'm a mixed bag when it come to documents. While decluttering has become my middle name, I still struggle to get my computer docs in good and simple order.

    Did I ever send you my promo stuff about Sudden Secrets? See I can't even remember that. Help!

    Happy New Year.

    1. No, you didn't yet--

      I'll bet people's clutter will just move from the physical to the digital realm.

      Happy New Year!

  2. Love these thoughts. Digital clutter is problem for me too, and I'm constantly cleaning out my computer space as well as my physical spaces. Decluttering, for sure, is not a do-it-once project, I'm finding more and more. Keep making progress! It's the only way. And it's definitely not a race or a competition. I've read places on how to properly store jewelry, but none of it seemed to work for me, so I came up with my own system that has worked like a charm so far. I think decluttering can take as much creativity as writing!

    1. It's similar to writing in that you have to apply general advice to your specific situation; work at your own pace; let go of a lot; and make a lot of decisions. ;-) For me, the constant decision making is the toughest--figuring out whether I want or need something, and if I don't, how to dispose of it; if I do, where to put it.