Organizing Old Papers / Letters

Posted by: Lisa Shea

Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/11/10 09:10 AM

I had a large crate in a back closet of "random papers" - old letters, old James artwork, old school stuff. It was a mess. So I finally brought it down and started to sort through it.

For the various papers I've written for over the years, I got some scrapbooking boxes that fit the newspaper format perfectly. I was so happy! Now those are organized and labeled and can be stored neatly.

For James' artwork I got a 3 ring binder with plastic sleeves and put it all in there. Now that is all organized and easy to look through too. So that's great.

I'm left with a several inch high pile of papers and letters though. This gets into the realm of "how many old letters do I need to keep"? I've already gone through and recycled all the old Christmas cards I was saving. So that is done. But how about letters from my great-aunt? I want to keep those, in one book. Then how about all these letters from guys, from before Bob? Do I really want to keep those all? It's not like I read them ever - but to me they're like my old diaries. They have painful information, but it was something I went through and survived, and having that documentation of it seems important to me.
Posted by: tweetymom

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/13/10 07:32 AM

I have a hard time throwing away letters, receipts, statements and cards. Brochures from the doctors office, the Grand kids drawings, I don't know what all! lol

i have papers and all of the above from years ago. I put like, a three month period of all that in a plastic groc bag, and put it away, in case I missed something important in there!

I think I know deep down that I don't really need these things, but by now I'm so overwhelmed by all this, that I'm not sure if it wouldn't be easier to just keep doing it!!

So I would be interested in hearing another point of view on this subject. How do you deal with this, (if you have this problem)
Posted by: jilly

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/14/10 07:56 AM

LIsa I like the scrapbook idea and the binder idea. I have so many misc papers I do not know what the heck to do with. I think this is an EXCELLENT topic to discuss. I also have several boxes of 'potentially important' boxes to deal with.
Posted by: jilly

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/14/10 08:11 AM

I guess the important next step for us is to make steps:

1. Set aside time to go through the papers we have and make categories of them.

2. Look at the categories and start thinking about how to sort/store the information. Scan it onto computer files or a disc? create a binder or scrapbook? A lookbook or vision board? A photo gallery or 'past love memory' binder? I do think categorizing is the first step. Then being creative with the piles is the next step.

3. Is there a third step here? If I had the answers I'd tell you. :-) Next person, please take it!
Posted by: Lisa Shea

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/25/10 12:22 AM

Well for receipts and anything non-personal I just scan it. I have an easy auto-feed scanner which I'm sure I've mentioned several times. So you sit watching TV and stick things into it one after another. So anything non-personal definitely gets scanned and recycled.

That leaves me with only personal items. I put all of James' artwork into a binder, with plastic sleeves. So that is done and up. I put all the newspaper copies of things I'd written into scrapbooking boxes. So those are organized and upstairs and done.

My Aunt Dot is 92 and I have a number of letters for her. I'm putting those into my genealogy drawer for now. I think I would want to keep the originals of those.

So the next stack I think is old boyfriend letters, which I was undecided on. I think I will scan those and toss them. I might want to refer back to them at some point, as diary entry sort of things. But I have no need to keep the "originals" for those. So that is my next plan.
Posted by: jilly

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/25/10 12:36 AM

Maybe the old boyfriend letters, after you scan then, can become part of scrap booking projects. Some kind of memory book where you cut and paste little entires or signatures or any doodles they wrote you, or special lines. Maybe cut out each I Love You and make a montage piece of art.
Posted by: jilly

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/25/10 12:41 AM

I have a problem with newsletter articles and newsletter photos I've published. I have literally thousands of published news pieces in many newspapers and magazines. I am so proud of them but do not know what to do with them. I could scan them, but i like having actual copies. Especially the full color front page or front section items, or the ones that won awards.

I really need to take the time some day to find acid free journals to place them in. Some items I want to frame and hang (in my some-day home). In the meantime I have about four huge tupperware bins from Target that store all these things. They get schlepped all over storage to storage. And I do not have time right now to do this project at all.

Any ideas would be appreciated. maybe I can pay someone to handle this for me? I just don't want the pages to get ruined while they wait for me to archive them properly. it's already been longer than ten years on these papers.
Posted by: Lisa Shea

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/25/10 12:49 AM

Jilly - the scrapbooking idea is a cool one. I'll see what I can do.

I have kept my two big boxes of papers so I know what you mean about saving the papers. I like having the physical copies too. Have you trimmed them down to just your pages, and recycled the rest of the pages?
Posted by: jilly

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/25/10 01:10 AM

Trimming them is hard. Most of the newspapers have stories from me on every page, or have three pieces from me on every page with five photos. So I actually need to have multiple copies of issues in case I wanted to cut things out that have my stuff on both sides of them.

When there are only three reporters and an editor on your weekly newspaper, and you are one of the only two full time reporters/photographers, you tend to write almost the entire paper by yourself.

It's a mess. it's not like everything is great shakes (covering school board and water board meetings is sooo exciting), but the festivals, bank robberies, plane crashes, foster kid series and column pieces are keepers. As are my photos. Going through everything as a full time job would take about a month to sort out.

I have these fantasies that my storage will burn down and set me free. Crazy, eh?
Posted by: Lisa Shea

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/26/10 09:15 PM

Ah ok that does sound more challenging!
Posted by: aaadraine&chicki

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/26/10 10:12 PM

This information from everyone is very helpful. I want a
more uncluttered life-stye too. I'm going to pick a time
#1 everyday now to sort & go through. the scrapbooking
boxes & 3-ring binder will help& I had forgotten & got
off track. I too have Genealogy and keep very close
and safe. The scrapbook memeory book(s) I had thought
of but didn't want a ton of those either. But getting started
will help and I'm starting today! grin
Posted by: jilly

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/26/10 11:04 PM

aaadraine&chicki, i think you are on the right track with picking a time for every day to do some decluttering and organizing.

Did you get any done today? What did you do?
Posted by: aaadraine&chicki

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/27/10 02:15 AM

I put a piece of Amethyst near me & calming: Today I started
immediately, allowing myself to pick 5PM ( by that time I'm
done with other chores) 1 1/2 hr. is good I un-packed my 3
new binders and 5 scrapbooks suitable for certain keep-sakes.
got rid of old magazines ( hard to do with my outmoded thinking)
The rest of the magazines I dumped on the floor so I will have
to Sort them out. OK going to make my own luck here:) I want
to remedy this problem. I got rid of a OLD picnic basket that
always gave me the blues ( just by looking or thinking of )
It had cloth napkins inside & now I will use them. and recipies
which i put in my recipie notebook ( for now) WoW that basket
GONE and feels good. I got rid of some old 'reminders' & notes
to do 'things ( I haven't done yet all year) THAT's distracting
and makes me feel bad, They're gone! Over-whelming but I did
it QUICKLY, so Not stop. of course a little potentially
nervous but have been planning this 'power change',knowing
I was going into motion, positive yet still a little stressful.
This is why I was getting worried. Interestingly didn't
bother me as much as I thought and only a hour 1/2 at a time
makes it easier. Thanks to the POSTING here too. So
magazines & start working on Old CDs? and one box a week
(I'm thinking?) I have three boxes of papers (1/2 is papers
and health & junk) the other is personal, so the scrapbooks
should work well and I may toss more then I think. So for
today, having that Picnic basket OUT??? Feels great, and I
have lovely napkins to use next week when my husband will
be home for Vacation & a few meals :)instead of 'waiting for
Company that we don't have as much any more' and I have a nice
place to keep my 'new napkins in my kitchen ( so I can use them)
Like I said <teasing> I don't know what Planet I've been on?
I'm back home, it feels good! Thanks Forum/organizing grin
Posted by: Lisa Shea

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 04/27/10 07:28 PM

That's awesome that you're making such great progress!

I agree completely - it feels so refreshing when you clear out junk that's been hanging around for a while!
Posted by: jilly

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 05/09/10 12:47 AM

A&C, that is great work! have you been able to keep setting aside the time? I bet you are just grooving along. Even just five minutes a day makes a difference over time. :-)

I might have an odd solution to my old papers issue. I might be buying some land with a useless mobile on it. It would make a great storage shed. I could actually divide it up by rooms! That way I could have the things i need to sort pre-organized by area. I could use the useless kitchen counters as a sorting/staging/packing area.
Posted by: tweetymom

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 05/09/10 08:25 AM

Wow jilly what luck for you to find that land with the useless mobile on it!

I have a van that I had to retire a couple years ago, (it did not pass the emissions law. It would cost more than it's worth to repair it for inspection!), and I use it for storage. I took out the back seats and threw them away, and there's lots of room in there. No one at the apt complex has complained yet about taking up a parking space, so I'm ok with it for now. But I'm always going back and forth with deciding to sell it for junk. i could get $200-300 for it. I WILL sell it when I get rid of the yard sale stuff in it! But for now I'm making use of it!

Back to your land with mobile. So have our plans changed? Do you still plan on leading a 'traveling life', and have your land to go back to and someday build on it?
Posted by: jilly

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 05/09/10 08:17 PM

Dinah, I was thinking that you should keep the van as long as you need storage space. A storage unit would cost you many more times $300 over the course of a year.

Once you no longer need extra storage space, then junk it for cash! :-)

On me: this plan would be in conjunction with traveling and would be the land I do the off the grid stuff on. I decided that placing my bets on Oklahoma is not a wise choice.
Posted by: tweetymom

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 05/11/10 05:36 AM

So the land is in Oklahoma? Oh well.

The van is definately staying in use. At least unless someone complains that it is taking up a parking space!

I used to have yard sales a couple times a year at least. I would have them when i didn't have work cleaning apts but the last year I've had work, almost non stop, which is good. Is great, as a matter of fact. And I've gotten real picky about what I will accumulate for my sales, because I have so much of if now, from not having sales! lol Half of my living room is taken up with it. I don't mind too much, since I basically live in the bedroom anyway. I try not to cool the whole apt if I don't have to. But enough is enough! i need to get rid of some things in order to start accumulating better stuff. Jeez, I'm not sure if that makes sense, now that I've put it down here! haha.

Another thing is that I haven't had any one to help me get it downstairs. I live up stairs and cannot do it by myself. Lately there has been a couple people who are interested in doing it, so I'm kind of planning a sale. I pay them $10 an hour to do that, but people get jobs, or they move, and so on. I'm trying to do it before it gets really hot here. Its unbearable to be out in the hot afternoon in the summer!

Recently I met some women from a church, who have yard sales for their church, and I got the idea that I will give them some of this stuff! The more i think of that the better it sounds.
Posted by: Lisa Shea

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 05/12/10 07:02 AM

Dinah - that is an awesome idea about giving them items for them to sell with the church. That way it goes to a good cause (most of those church sales are directly for a charity) and you can get some breathing room in your life!
Posted by: aaadraine&chicki

Re: Organizing Old Papers / Letters - 05/23/10 03:25 AM

blush I'm still able to keep 'setting' aside the time to sort.
Got the 3 boxes & papers in order-down to what I want to do
with everything. I have to stick to the same time of day
or else I'll slip a little cry I can go for shorter 30 min.
sometimes but best for me to do these things when my bird
is napping or more settled & doesn't need alot of my attention-
That's when I run around like CRAZY & get some sorting done.
I was pretty excited at first, getting rid of stuff/papers?
Mostly Now I'm wishing ( I want everything OUT of my place)
But that's not happening this year. I say this because it
would be so much easier to paint/repair & do things in my
apartment. Also I have always loved 'the LESS Look' Like when
you first moved into a place and hardly much in it?
I'm not able to do the 'storage Thing' I did that once in
the 80's but I was alot younger and always had someone to
help me go back & forth ( which was often) and now I don't
want to spend the $$ or have to worry about getting back
& forth to storage. Gosh I say to myself, what DO I want?
I don't do yard sales and again I have no one to help me
get the stuff down my stairs /up stairs OMG it's stressful
for me to even think of 'sales' and it gets hot here too eek
Sorry whining here cry My husband teases me and says I don't
have 'too much' of anything. So maybe it's me taking up the
space, oh dear. But seems like all I think about is, wishing
my place was more empty (LESS) well for now, sorting and sticking
to doing 'something every day and the scrap books are a big help.