7 Sep
Posted in: Simplify
By    5 Comments

Paper Work

My love of print content definitely creates some of my more complex organizational challenges. One of the biggest paper lessons I’ve learned after moving so often is to not save magazines a la the Collyer brothers. Now, instead of skimming them and holding on to them longer term for when I want to “go back,” I now read them cover to cover, ripping out anything I want to hold onto along the way. Whatever’s left goes into my recycling bin. I put any ripped out pages in my paper pile (more about that later) and when I go through it later, if the pages are STILL intriguing to me for whatever reason, I three-hole punch them and file them in my mammoth “ideas” binder under the appropriate category. This seems basic enough, but it really has made a difference in how I consume and store magazine and other non-book print matter.

Yet more proof that I am certifiable.

Yet more proof that I am certifiable.

My main binder contains categories for how-to’s, gift giving ideas, beauty tips and clothing inspiration (it is probably shocking to people who see how I normally dress that I have this section), business, travel and so on. The categories have morphed over the years and my decoration and gardening categories eventually became so large that I ended up starting a second binder that consists entirely of those two items and a third binder, kept downstairs, that just holds recipes, divided up by appetizers/soups, main courses, desserts and party/event planning.

The benefit of this system (to me) cannot be overstated. Instead of a pile of magazines, information sheets, printouts, whatever, I now have information that I’ve collected over many years at my fingertips to browse through whenever I like. It’s like a giant magazine of just my very favorite things, carefully divided into sections that make sense to me. When I’m out of ideas, or need a mental refresh, I have a resource of curated material that I have already fallen in love with. When the binder starts to get too full, I purge it, going page by page and recycling any that I no longer find relevant or inspiring.

My pile. Hmmm. Bigger than I remembered it.

My pile. Hmmm. Bigger than I remembered it.

Now: back to the paper pile. I like to consider myself an organized person. This is something that I used to be horrible (HORRIBLE) at so I take a bit of pride in keeping things systemized and tidy. The one thing I can never seem to get past is my omnipresent (whether at home or work) paper pile.

With an otherwise neat desk, even one small pile of papers can pretty much drive you crazy. Which is sort of the point for me…if I put them in an inbox or something where they wouldn’t look jarring, I’d ignore them. But just lying out…well, it certainly is a visual reminder of what I need to be working on if I catch myself staring off into space. Sometimes I am able to temporarily finish my pile, and those days are like pure sunshine. I feel like all is right with the world, staring at my clear expanse of desk. So, maybe the system works.

How do you keep tabs on the things that inspire you? And how do you remind yourself to look at them to keep inspired?


  • I do exactly the same thing! My categories are a little different… mostly I keep house remodelling ideas, DIY stuff (furniture, decorating, etc), sewing. I don’t bother with beauty and clothing anymore 😀

    I also have decided that I’m not going to keep recipes, mostly because I tear them out and never ever make anything! Usually when I go back through and read the recipes again, I can’t figure out why I saved it in the first place! Instead, when I see a recipe that I like in a magazine, I try to find it online – most of the magazines I read post their content online – and then add it to an online recipe book. I’m in the trial stages of this new fangled nonsense, so I’m not sure how this will pan out long-term, but it’s better than having a stack of recipe pages that I will eventually throw away.

    What magazines do you read? Right now I am reading Sunset and BH&G. Used to get Martha Stewart and Real Simple, until they pissed me off. 🙂

    • Diane, that’s so funny! And I thought I was all alone in my binder-ful-of-wonders. 🙂 I hear what you are saying about the recipes…it IS tricky. Often, when I get around to trying them out, I find I don’t like them. 😉 Oh, well. Have you heard about Evernote? I haven’t tried it yet but another blogger tries it for her recipes (and everything else) and swears by it…sounds promising. – http://smallnotebook.org/2009/09/04/evernote-free-software-that-knocked-my-socks-off/

  • I have only heard rumors of the awesomeness that is Evernote. I am intrigued by its ability to turn a photograph of a whiteboard and make it text-searchable. Registering… right… now.

  • Great great great idea! I’ve always attempted this but with no luck… I’m starting to get more magazines again, so i’m gonna give this a try!

  • […] fish sticks. I was so mad at myself when I found out it was folding because I had been carelessly ripping out some articles for my big ol’ binder and recycling the rest of each issue. “Why didn’t I save them?” I cried out to […]

So, what do you think?