15. Paper again!

Paper again! As I re-read and re-visit my Stella experiences I am struck by how common her clutter is to nearly all our clients, particularly paper. As far as Beverly and I can tell: NO ONE LIKES DOING PAPER.

'I want to re-visit the boxes of paper and do a first pass of some bags of paper', said Stella when I came into the house.

Getting paper out of slithery amorphous bags and vertically into 6-bottle-wine-boxes had become very much part of our process. In spite of there being paper Stella wasn't yet ready to face yet, she was much more confident and making lots of choices with the vast majority of it.

'I've found almost all my old work related papers that need shredding. I'd like to hire a big shredder to use over the long weekend. My sister has a pile of things she wants to destroy too.

'Guess what', I said, 'Beverly called me a few days ago to say she'd finished talking to a new client who'd chosen Cluttergone because of the diary.

'By the way I said, you aren't the only one of my clients who has post they hate opening, even post that might have something good in it like a cheque. In fact, unopened post with cheques is especially yucky and seems to make people feel down and guilty.'

Somehow, when you talk about paper, clients imagine fancy file systems being beamed down into their home offices. Then like Mary Poppins or Merlin packing a case for a trip, all the papers jump into their respective files. Whereas, doing paper really means thinning down and thinning down until you are left with only things that you want to keep either for reference or because they still require some action.

In the first pass, doing paper means getting rid of the envelopes and junk bits, flattening the contents and making some very basic categories. The categories in this first stage are the same for everyone as they are for Stella: memories (personal letters), paid bills, bank records, work related papers, tax things, health, mortgage information. Getting rid of the obvious junk, the envelopes and the first throwaways usually will reduce the overall volume by at least a third and sometimes, more than half. Even more important, the remaining paper is now in neat squared off piles ready for the next sorting stage. In Stella's case, this is when we use the wine boxes.

'That's great!'

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