This in a way should have been something that I shared at the start of our recent long weekend in New Zealand - but I have only just stopped long enough to sit down after having another big clean up this weekend. I have noticed a repeating pattern happen over the past few months - whenever I start to feel stressed, overwhelmed and out of control again. I clean. Not just in a vacuum and wipe down the benches kind of way. But more of the, I’m going to pull everything out of every cupboard/draw/box go through each piece one by one, throw out anything that I don’t want/need any more and sort the rest into a new (and hopefully) elegant system.
I started the weekend really overwhelmed, and now am so much calmer - with every big clean out the more in control I feel, I cry less now when going through our things and have found it oddly refreshing to get rid of what hurts and keeping/sorting the rest into a fresh new way. It’s therapy at it’s very finest. Plus the more I get rid of, I’ve noticed the happier I feel from it - I don’t know it it’s just because I’m creating my own life now, or if it’s as simple as you’re actually happier with less items to overwhelm and consume you with.
So after the huge clean our of my wardrobe (I even managed to part with more this weekend!), I decided it was time to get my digital and paper filing up to date. This includes not only my personal life, but my business too. Online and paper file management is a big enough job as it is, but as I’ve found, it’s 10 times harder when you’re trying to re connect dots and start everything fresh again. That said though, I now have a system, one that is mine and one that works for me. I’d love to hear of any tips and tricks you have for sorting your paper and online files - but below are a few of mine and I hope they help you create a simpler and easier life. x
There were a few goals for my digital and paper clean up - one was to go through all the papers that come with a long relationship, married, owing then selling your home, and the unfair divorce that came with it. The paper work is just huge. Some pieces are offical, some not, but I wanted to make sense of it all and create a system that I understood. The other was to streamline everything as much as possible, one so that I knew where everything was, but also to be able to quickly have it at hand if I needed it. And with Paris coming up so quickly, I need it to be online so that if I needed to find something quickly I could. Plus, getting rid of boxes and boxes of paper to recycle not only feels wonderful (terrible too when you think of how many trees went into it), but you actually feel lighter from it. So, below is a little of what I have been up to over the past few weeks - but with a little more force over the weekend.
Possibly the trickiest of file management to sort. A lot of it I think comes down to what you want to keep online/on your computer or print, to keep. At the moment almost all of my photos are online, and I try to print off a few each year, or after a holiday, so that I have a little keepsake of the trip. One of my favourite places to get photos printed from at the moment is Artifact Uprising - you have probably noticed the little square photos in my photos. These prints are photos that I took while in Paris and Munich last year - and really are such a lovely reminder of a wonderful time.
Also, a little while ago I upgraded to 1TB of online space - for one person this is a huge amount of space and I’m yet to fill it, but it also has everything that I need and use on it. I store all of my work for Made From Scratch on it and also my personal files, which also includes photos. I gave up on iPhoto a little while ago too and now instead of trying to sync them across all of my tablets, etc. I simply have the photos from my phone upload straight to Dropbox into a file called camera uploads - and from there I sort them. It took me so so long to get all of this sorted and set up - but now looking after my photos is so simple. And now, photos for Made From Scratch or my social media clients go into their respective folders and then my personal photos go into my personal files. Which I sort by year and month - that way I’m able to easily find any photos that were taking in February 2016 for example. I upload the photos from my phone to dropbox about once a week - that way I’m able to keep on top of my photos and the task doesn’t become to huge.
Aside from big ticket items, there really isn’t a huge reason to keep receipts just for me. But for my business, I have to. The one thing that really annoys me though is having to store them (which takes up so much space as the years go on) but also that the receipts fade with time - so they naturally become void. So I now scan in each receipt that I need to keep for Made From Scratch, or personal, and then file it away on dropbox - of course under years, months so that I can find them easily. I use a wonderful app called Scannable where you simply take a photo of your receipt (or document) it then converts it to a pdf. and then you’re able to rename it if you like and of course save it to your chosen dropbox folder - and then I throw the receipt away. That way, I’m able to keep track of all of my finances, and the best part, if my accountant needs to see all of my purchases from a certain month I can simply share the folder with her and she can see it straight away. Which in turn saves me so so much time as I don’t have to dig around in boxes for a faded receipt any more!
I have also used the same method with the scannable app wit any important papers that I need to keep on hand - birth certificates, etc. I of course have the originals in a safe and easy spot to access, but it’s handy to have them on file too.
Organise your desktop and downloads folder
I don’t tend to save much to my desktop, but my downloads folder is almost always overflowing with new items, and is one area that gets out of hand really quickly. I try to once a week go through this folder and sort everything into their right spots - anything personal, photos etc, goes into their respective folders, and anything for work goes into their folders. I also sort all of my work by years and months so that I’m able to find everything quickly too.
Clean up your phone
Everything from uploading (and then deleting) the photos from you phone into dropbox or your preferred backup - to removing apps from your phone that you don’t use. It’s amazing just how much better you feel when your phone is nice and organised.
Important physical papers, files and keepsakes
As much as I’d like to have everything online as possible - it’s just not the reality for some things. I found this the hardest job of all, every piece I came across was another painful reminder that it’s now just me - but take a deep breath, pour yourself a wine and take everything out of the original box and sort through each piece bit by bit. From there you will know what needs to be kept in it’s physical state, if you can scan it to keep online, or part with it. I keep all of my important documents in a box as you’re not allowed to puncture them with a hole punch - so these are stored in a nice box seperate from keepsakes and anything that isn’t just official documents. Oh, and treat yourself some beautiful new folders and boxes, it will make the job so much nicer.
Manuals and Boxes
I oddly find it so so hard to part with manuals and boxes that a product came in (especially anything apple related) I don’t know why I have such a love for holding on to these things. Especially as anything that you purchase now has all of the manuals online - but also why do you need to keep a box that just takes up valuable space. So I decided to part with this weird ‘keepsake’ and got rid of any manuals and boxes that I didn’t need, and then scanned in the receipts and any warranties - that way I don’t have boxes filled with things that I don’t need, but I still have all of the important information about the product.
This is also a really good time - if you like - to set up an inventory of what you own. Family friends of ours recently had a horrible fire through their home - and have since spent a few weeks working out what they owned so that they’re able to claim it on insurance. I guess if you have a running inventory of items that you own it would be so much easier to face an issue like that it if ever appeared.
After I had done all of this - I then went through each box/draw again. Sorted through each piece again and rearranged it so it was easier to find. This really was such a big job, and not something that can be done in a few hours either. Even if you tackle one thing at a time you will feel so great afterwards that you now know where everything is, and most importantly, how to find it. I also think it’s really really important to share with another family member or friend where they would find all of these items too if they ever needed too.
Phew, so this was what my weekend involved. I have been doing this off and on over the past few months though - but the weekend just gone was one where I parted with a lot of things that I never thought I would have to part with, and honestly I don’t miss them, I don’t hold any love for them any more and I feel so much lighter and happier knowing that they’re gone. I still have to go through the rest of what’s in storage - but that will wait for another day/year. I’d absolutely love to hear if any of these ideas help you to create a calmer and more organised life - plus, of course I’d love to hear of any tips and tricks you have. xo