Limits of Sharing

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It is a week since my last post.  I have not been overly busy but my activities have simply not been particularly relevant to share on the blog.  The rhythm of the days have continued with housework done and meals prepared as well as family members visiting for a few days.

We have had some cold days so outdoor activities have not been particularly enticing.

I have been using the some of the time indoors to catch up on some ‘life administration’ tasks.  Today I needed a particular piece of paperwork for an application I was doing but I was unable to locate it easily.  This drove me to go through every piece of paper in the filing cabinet and adjacent folders.  It took me several hours and I found the document I was seeking.  In the meantime, it was the perfect opportunity to review the contents of the filing cabinet.

With the help of GMan, I discarded a significant pile of papers which are no longer relevant or required.

Some have been shredded.

2020-07-16 01

More shredding to do tomorrow.

2020-07-16 02

Friday Filing – 2


Another week has whizzed by and the filing basket is slightly fuller this week.

2015-01-16 01The pile beside the basket is what I collected from the mailbox today.

I opened the mail and then sorted it into piles according to the action required.

2015-01-16 02Clockwise from top left:

Paper to go in the recycling bin (by far the biggest pile)
Some family history information which my mother gave to me – needs to be put in the storage container with other similar papers
Basket – almost empty
To be filed – includes new insurance schedule as a result of my follow-up phone call, tax assessments, notification of gas bottle delivery and bank statement
Plastic bag – to be kept to use as a rubbish bag
Confirmation of electoral enrollment which we will need when we vote in 2 weeks time – will put them in our wallets
ReNew magazine – I have almost finished reading it so it will go in the rack with the other issues
2 newspapers – to be read tonight then added to the recycling

Here is what is left in the basket:

2015-01-16 03Our list of jobs/goals for the house and garden – some short-term and others much longer but it serves as a reminder
The yellow tag is the variety of blueberry bush which The Duke wants to buy to replace a couple that did not survive.  We will not be buying these until the weather cools down a bit so what better place to keep it than in the filing basket?
The brown “thing” in the corner is actually 2 small bits of timber that broke off one of the outdoor chairs and The Duke is planning to repair it.

In just 3 weeks I feel as though I have made real inroads into creating a system that works for us to keep the relatively modest amount of mail and other papers that come into the house under control.

I do not see the need to post a similar thing every Friday about the ongoing filing activity which will be very similar each week.  However, I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

Do you have a system for keeping the paperwork under control?

The Week That Was


I have been making good progress on several fronts here.

Yesterday I spent the day sewing so have something to show for it.  I started by drafting a pattern using an existing purchased skirt.  I had some fabric that had been given to me and this is what I created.  I have yet to do the hem and the handstitching inside the waistband but you get the general idea.  I am not entirely happy with the fit over the hips and also the side pockets are not sitting perfectly but that will improved on in the next attempt.

2012-11-30 01I will still be happy to wear this as the shirt I am going to make will cover the less than perfect area.  This is going to be the top (also gifted fabric).  The colour match of the yellow flowers with the top is much better than the photograph would lead you to believe.

2012-11-30 02The other project has been slowly but surely working through the various piles of ‘pending’ paperwork.

2012-11-30 03This is some that I had been carrying around in my bag for a couple of weeks.  Today I actioned most of it – emails sent, phone calls made and most of it now shredded.  There is still a little to go back in the filing cabinet.

2012-11-30 04This pile is on the small table in the guest room.  It is mostly from our USA trip from over 2 months ago so my goal is to get it sorted out this weekend.  I have finally culled and sorted they photographs from our trip which has been quite a big job.

Tomorrow we are having lunch with friends and are looking forward to sharing the photos from our trip with them.

Have a relaxing weekend wherever you are.

What to Keep?

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From my own experience and what I have read, I think the most difficult thing to declutter and keep under control is paperwork.  It seems to be so insidious.

After my post the other day, titled ‘Gone From the Office’, Angasagain asked, “How long do you keep bills and bank statements for? Some of my filing sleeves are bulging but I’m not sure how ruthless I should be.”

The first thing to remember is that there are legal requirements regarding documents relating to tax returns.  In Australia, you need to keep all taxation papers and relevant documents, such as bank statements, for 5 years after the completion of the tax year.  This may be different in other countries so it is important to check the local laws.

I have set up the suspension files in the filing cabinet with one for each year.  At the moment we have:

Current year 2011-2012

5 previous years


When the next tax return is done, I will discard (shredded) the 2006-2007, add 2011-2012 to the previous years and create a new “Current year” which will be 2012-2013.  This is based on the principle of 1 in, 1 out.  If you do not do this regularly you are likely to find that you have 20 years worth of tax returns bulging out of the filing cabinet.

In conjunction with the annual cull of tax stuff I also get rid of the relevant year of bank statements.  Remember to shred all documents carefully to protect your security.

For all other paperwork, I find the best method is to ask yourself why you are keeping it and what possible scenario could arise where you would need to refer to it.

Household bills – we usually keep for 1 – 2 years so that we can compare them with the same period of the previous year.  I do not keep a record of how much we spend on particular bills over an entire year but some people do.

Product warranties, instructions and receipts are kept for the life of the item.  I would suggest setting up a 6 monthly schedule to review all of these documents and discard any that are no longer relevant.

In order to reduce the amount of paper, we choose to receive whatever bills possible via email and save them in the electronic format.  We only print them if required.

Being a good gatekeeper is essential.  Stop that paper before it gets in the door.  Consider putting a ‘NO JUNK MAIL’ sticker on your mailbox.  What will you miss?  Store catalogues advertising stuff that you didn’t even know you needed?  Flyers advertising services that you do not require?  If you seriously want to follow what grocery specials are available, I believe these can be accessed online although I personally have not done this.

Everyone’s requirements will be different.  This may depend on whether you are renting or have a mortgage, are studying, employed or receiving Centrelink benefits.  The most important thing is to review all paperwork critically when it arrives in your home and decide:

Do I need to receive this information?
Do I need to retain this information?

Please tell me how you go about deciding what documents come into your home and more importantly what gets to stay and for how long.

Piles of Paper


This photo of the study desk which I posted yesterday, is the superficial face of what is lurking deeper.

2011-08-24 02‘Study’ is probably a bit of a misnomer for this room as neither of us are studying anything and haven’t done so for many years.  I should really call it the office as it is the office from which we jointly run the business of our lives and our home.

The business of our income and expenditure includes bank statements, tax returns, superannuation information, rates, utilities and various insurance policies.  We have a filing cabinet in here.

2011-08-25 02Like this…..

2011-08-25 03I have found that simply filing everything is not enough.  We need to regularly check and cull what we keep.  There is no benefit in keeping bank statements from 20 years ago unless you are planning a museum.  My theory is that since tax returns need to be kept for 5 years, it is reasonable to align other financial paperwork by the same criteria.

Each year when the tax is finalised and we receive the paperwork from the accountant, I remove the oldest year and rename the file for the current year so that we can collect any relevant  information in one place.

I sorted through the bank statements and found that they dated back to 2004 which means that I had not cleared any out for at least a couple of years.  This has now been rectified and I have a pile ready for shredding.  I will add bank statements to the list of things for an annual cull at the end of the financial year.

2011-08-25 04I keep folders of instructions, receipts and warranties for all of our appliances and equipment.  I check these from time to time and remove the details for anything we no longer own.

Keeping the paperwork under control seems to require constant vigilance, otherwise it can very easily get out of control.  It is a fine line between hoarding everything and retaining what is required by law, such as tax returns.

What documents do you keep and why?

Organisation? Why?

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If I ever decide to ponder the worth of being organised, I only have to think back to tonight to remind myself of the benefits.

We are far from completely organised and it has really showed when The Duke and I discovered that we cannot find a sheet of paper which we need.  Despite our best efforts we have been unable to locate it so I am forced to make a phone call tomorrow and hopefully talk my way through it without the paperwork.

I have a feeling the paper will turn up one day, carefully filed somewhere but that it is not much help at the moment.

It is not only a matter of organising what we have but I think there is some more stuff that has to go.

Wish me luck with the phone call tomorrow and the renewed sorting and decluttering.