It sounds to me that you like collecting information. Maybe you like to “know” things and pass information along to others. Or you like to have the info “in case” you might need it. Maybe it’s a bit of both.
Clutter is defined as something you do not love, that is not useful and that you do not have room for in your space. With that in mind, I have some questions for you:
· Do you actually refer to the articles? If not, is it because you can’t find anything or you never actually need to use the info?
· Do you have room for your articles or is your collection outgrowing or has already outgrown its space?
I once worked with someone who had an extensive magazine collection. Someone asked her for place card ideas for a party, and she brought in a stack of ideas culled from her collection. I was blown away. I have never had the patience to maintain magazines articles to any extent. For me, they were clutter; to her they were very useful.
Be honest with yourself about how useful your articles are to you. If you can’t find what you’re looking for but have actually needed the info, it’s time to set up a system that works for you. By asking me your question, I’m guessing that the collection is either not useful to you or you have too much of it.
“In case” are code words for fear. You just might be collecting information to make you feel like you are safe, “If I ever need to know this, I’m covered!” It would be ideal to address the emotion and not collect the stuff, or you set yourself up for needing more and more stuff to cover the fear.
To start clearing and set up a system that works for you, I would suggest this approach:
- Pull all of your information together in one place. You will need some time to tackle this so find a space where you can leave your project when you’re not working on it.
- Have some supplies ready: bags for recycling, file folders – don’t worry if they aren’t nice ones at this time, paper for noting categories.
- Set your timer for 15-minutes so you don’t get overwhelmed. Take a deep breath and start!
- Go through the files/piles. If you know you don’t even need to look at it because it’s so outdated, don’t hesitate: recycle it.
- As you sort, note on your sheet of paper what categories your articles seem to fall under: travel, recipes, home improvement, etc. As you sort, keep ONLY what is vital. So much information is readily available on the internet, so make sure what you are keeping is useful. Sort your articles into your category piles, keep noting any new categories.
- Do this in 15-minute increments until you are done. Once you get going, you may keep going for a longer stretch as long as you don’t feel overwhelmed.
- Once you have sorted through the whole collection, evaluate how much you have decided to keep, and congratulate yourself for everything you have gotten rid of! Yay! Chances are, you are still keeping too much. Take a quick second pass through the piles now that you have a more discriminating eye and recycle any more you won’t truly need.
- Now that you see how much you are keeping and in what general categories, you can label files with the appropriate categories. This would be the time to have nice folders and labels. It’s much more fun to file and retrieve items when they are aesthetically pleasing. And filing needs to be FUN, or at least not pure drudgery to keep up with it. And trust me, if you continue to pull articles, you need to keep filing them in their categories or you are participating in a waste of your time and energy.
- Use your collection to help others and yourself. Trust the universe to provide what you need when you need it so you don’t have to keep things in fear.