I’ve always loved paper. Books over Kindle, yes, but also printing things off and writing things down on paper. I love writing on paper, particularly with a pencil, but as much as I love paper, sometimes it gets away from me.
It piles up on the desk, the chair, the shelves, the second desk, the large table out back, and the floor. It fills filing cabinets, folders, project cases, binders, and nooks and crannies. It gets lost, misplaced, trodden on, and vacuumed up – goodness knows what that page was.
To help me regain some control, I periodically do a paper sweep where every piece of paper goes into a large basket. From there, it either gets shredded, filed, or acted upon, and depending on how much paper there is, the effort often ends with a declaration to “use less paper”. No, that doesn’t usually work, but it has led to several erasable whiteboards populating my office.
Other than the occasional paper cut, and misplacing a page or two every now and then, the only problem I have with paper is when I come across a page in my own handwriting that I have absolutely no idea what it’s about. My shorthand, graphics, and quirky notations were clearly enough at the time, but days, months, or even years later, not at all. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it’s really frustrating.
Like today. A piece of paper I found that seems to be referring to editing, or maybe writing, or perhaps my website, or even publishing, or file storage, or something about May 9 – year unknown – and $600. Um, okay.
What to do? Well, I could save it in case it turns out to be important, or file it for future reference, or write a short story using all the words on the page. Good options, but since I’ve written a blog about it and used the page as the featured photo, I think I’ll just shred it. One less reminder of my problem with paper.
If you’ve read this far and looking for a magic remedy for, or words of wisdom about, all the paper in your office, try the large basket technique. It’s very effective, and something to do while watching TV or listening to a podcast. Alternatively, use the shredder. Fun, easy and permanent.
If you happen to have an even better idea, please let me know. For the next six months or so, I expect my paper usage will increase, and any suggestions you care to share will be more than welcome.