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Organizing 101 - Purging Paper And Chaos

Updated on August 16, 2017

Heave Ho!

Feed the shredder now.

The day has finally come.

Clutter cleaning done!.

Start anywhere? Or have a plan?

There is no such thing as organized chaos!.
There is no such thing as organized chaos!. | Source

Can there be method to the madness?

If you didn't know it already, then learn this now: Identity thieves want your trash.

What to know about what to throw and what to stow?

You know you are in trouble when_____?_____ .
You know you are in trouble when_____?_____ . | Source

It is safer to shred everything than to throw it all out!

Somewhere along the line of benign government (if there has ever been such a thing) voters' representatives passed a law that you have to keep some of your scraps of paper....lots of them!

The Law Says

Those "scraps of paper" are the receipts that validate your income tax returns for the past seven years, or maybe it's only five or six, but check the current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules by calling 1-800-IRS-RULES to be sure what the most current law says.

Next Step

If you haven't misbehaved on those prior years of tax returns, and here let your conscience be your guide, you can immediately shred (not throw out!) those tax notes from years prior to those you are required to retain.

Mark the required years returns you are required to retain and put them in some accessible dark recess and out of the way for future shredding when the law allows.

Now what?

Old newspapers, old magazines, old advertisements, old every thing that doesn't have your Social Security number or date of birth on it goes in the recycle trash (if your town has such a green thing) or the regular trash (if it doesn't.)

Give yourself a Gold Star

Now, except for exercising due caution to prevent identity theft, that was easy wasn't it! Give yourself a gold star and move on. You are gaining momentum, and already there is a clearing in the middle or around the edges of the chaos.

Crucial Step

Ask yourself this question: "If my dwelling place were to catch fire, what would I want to save?"

Find those "emergency moment items" and bundle them where you can find them quickly in just such an emergency (probably near your "1 Week Supply" of essentials that will help you survive such a catastrophe) and you will be ready to survive the unexpected.

By the way, include a current utility bill with your name and address on it. That is your ticket to get back into your neighborhood in the event of a real disaster when looters, identity thieves, and other undesirables are hopefully being denied entry.

The path to the Finish Line

Most folks who lose everything in just such a disaster are quick to say that they have lost all their "priceless photos" and after that comment may add a short list of other memorabilia that they know they will miss.

Ask yourself what precious heirlooms of that "sort" may be missing among your clutter, and watch for them as you finish clearing the clutter and approach the Finish Line.

Unused for a year or more?

Stuff, stuff, and more stuff!
Stuff, stuff, and more stuff! | Source

Donating and Gifting

It has been said that "One man's junk is another man's treasure."

Keep that saying in mind, but remember that not every one of your horded "treasures" is anyhing more than junk that is cluttering up your life.

Simple is just that: simple.

You don't need to dust what is simply fast becoming an antique, or doesn't function as it once did.

If it's a real antique, consider selling it or gifting it to a dear friend or relative.

The idea here is simple too: if you were dead and gone tomorrow, what would someone else have to deal with because you didn't?

You will get more enjoyment out of the proceeds, or the appreciation, from simplifying now, than knowing that without a conscious choice on your part now, some unrecognized "treasure" may just get the heave ho when you are not around to advise otherwise.

For some added thoughts along those lines, here is an article on the subject: .

Nature abhors a vacuum

While you are at it, here are some more "momentum moments":

> If you would like some new, more functional clothes, clean out your clothes closets., and donate to a place where people who have lost everything, or really have the next thing to nothing, can be clothed....even what you no longer wear.

> If you would be content with getting a library card in order to read any book you would like to read, clean out all those books you have read, or will never have time to read, and donate or gift them.

> If you have "stuff" that has been unused for over a year, donate it or clean it up and gift it.

> If you "just don't know" when you will ever wear, listen to,or use something again, donate or gift, or junk it and make room for something you will wear, listen to, and use.

Nature abhors a vacuum. When you clean out the clothes closet, almost magically new clothes will appear. The same will be true of the empty bookshelf, the Mother Hubbard's cupboards, the finally cleaned garage, basement, and game room (if you have such areas.)


All that space you have cleared, all those once cluttered surfaces, can all fill to overflowing again, if you don't periodically go through this same process.

You were what created the clutter and the chaos. You are still around.

It can happen again, but it doesn't have to.


© 2015 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.


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    • Perspycacious profile imageAUTHOR

      Demas W Jasper 

      11 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      With the indoor months ahead of many of us (me included), it is once again "Shred and Shed Time" the last, and perhaps only time, before holidays, taxes, and Spring arrive to find an organized or cluttered dwelling once again.

      More power to the people who celebrate this window of opportunity!

    • Perspycacious profile imageAUTHOR

      Demas W Jasper 

      4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      tielesstraveler - I am once again down to scheduling the appointment for a certified shredding company.

      Banks will shred unused and used checks. Keep some of those for seven (7) years from the date you filed or amended tax returns, but a reputable bank will assist that way in your shredding process.

      Community centers, senior centers, city and town offices, schools, etc., may have secure depositories for things you need shredded, and they pay the tab for what they have shredded, including your reasonable items.

      Home shredders, including "heavy duty 16 sheets at a time" shredders, are available for the home (c. $50) if you decide to buy one.

      Because it is so amazing as to what pieces of paper have sensitive account numbers on them, such as medical, commercial, bank, credit, and those canceled checks to IRS and state treasurers, when in doubt: shred it!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      4 years ago from California

      If paper made you rich I would be very wealthy indeed. Great ideas, especially the utility bill handy in case of fire.

    • Perspycacious profile imageAUTHOR

      Demas W Jasper 

      4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      I've had from 11/7 to now 11/24 to "shred and shed" but (yes, with me there seems to always be a "but") amending poor bookkeeping done for me took until 11/20, I essentially lost two days from a poisonous spider bite, and I take my rest on each Sabbath (8th, 15th, 22nd) and I lose half days working at the local seniors center each Tuesday. So here I am with today's vacuuming and some reorganizing done, all bills paid, laundry done and folded/stored, but with just two and one half days to do some more "shred and shed" before your mother's local representative returns from overseas to examine what "shred and shed" I have actually accomplished!

      Have no fear, we procrastinators do our best work at the inevitable "last moments." Time to call Certified Shredders, Inc. and schedule one of their trucks to pull up in the driveway and help me out with the "shred" part!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Seeing some of those photos, my mother would have a field day! We have dubbed her, "The Boss of Toss" (actually she shreds paper but the rest she donates, destroys or gives away). My dad is a relentless "keeper" or "collector" of stuff. In all seriousness, you provide excellent pointers. That one about your current utility bill as your ticket to getting back into your neighborhood in the event of a disaster. I never would have thought of that! Thank you!

    • Perspycacious profile imageAUTHOR

      Demas W Jasper 

      4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      BlossomSB - Vacuums definitely do not stay vacuums very long, and just one annual spring cleaning cannot do the whole job with three other seasons for the created spaces to fill back up. One of our daughters and her husband and six school age children go through a cooperative cleaning exercise every Saturday, but with Christmas and eight birthdays a year, they found they needed a bigger house! Cleaning is not yet the same thing as purging paper and chaos. Now their trophies are starting to accumulate, and scrapbook materials might be even worse without the ability to do electronic scrapbooks now.

      Good luck with making the tough decisions which only seem to work best when forced into down sizing or a move, or having them made for us as the result of a fire or other natural disaster.

      Something fun now is almost always the winner over a goal that has only a later reward potential!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      4 years ago from California

      I love to burn those old tax papers on cold nights. It is faster than shredding, but not alway available. Simplifying is my aim.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      It's spring here, and we all seem to have been bitten by the spring-cleaning bug, so your article is very timely. I'm afraid my home will never look like a vacuum, though!

    • Perspycacious profile imageAUTHOR

      Demas W Jasper 

      4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Carb Diva - With 877 written and 771 still active, I'm sure you can already find some this month, even a few yumns and one for bachelors.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      4 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Perspycacious - You are so very kind. I am glad that you have found (and enjoy) my recipes. I look forward to more helpful hubs from you.

    • Perspycacious profile imageAUTHOR

      Demas W Jasper 

      4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Carb Diva - You are correct on all counts. The approaching holidays are not only a perfect season for sales and donations, but also a perfect season for some more of your tested and taste-filled recipes! Donating, discarding, and selling off can create the desired space at home, and your recipes can help fill an empty space with some pleasurable delicacies!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      4 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Downsizing--ohmygoodness, do we ever need to. Yesterday when we went for our daily walk, my husband and I passed by a model house and went in for a look. It was beautiful, and hubby asked "Have you ever thought about moving again? That house was soooo nice." I told him that ours could look that nice too if we got rid of all of the clutter. Nature abhors a vacuum--boy, isn't that true! Thank you for a great hub and a very timely reminder. Also, if needing to make donations, this is a perfect time of year to do so. Your trash might be someone else's treasure.

    • Perspycacious profile imageAUTHOR

      Demas W Jasper 

      4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      The first comment is always a welcome one, especially when the ideas have come through, and the humor too, if humor was a part of the Hub.

      For most folks in the regular, midlife swing of things, downsizing-in-place has to be the way to go. "Not buying anything unless you actually need it" is sound advice at any age. Like my advice on a fat jar, putting the money aside when you save by not buying that sweet, that extra cup of coffee, the "thing" that isn't needed, will soon see a savings account piling up that is really a "savings" account! And the "cozy surroundings" will remain cozy.

      Thanks for reading, and for sharing (if you did). I miss the old HP scoring system, but then I guess that was "downsizing" too.

    • CrisSp profile image


      4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      This is not just useful, it's one entertaining hub too from the "Heave Ho to the Caution"! Very good indeed!

      I gave away a lot of stuff to Salvation Army when we sold the old house and now in the new place, we try to live and do with what we have as part of downsizing. Not buying anything more unless we need it.

      Yes, I shred anything that contains personal information. I suggest investing in a good paper shredder. I got mine from Staples from around 8 years ago and still doing a great job.


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