Unclutter my life – the three peak paper challenge

I am still chipping away at my own paper mountain. Almost there with the amount of papers filed reduced significantly. And the scanning and dumping (or the scanning and filing in the case of the current years P60’s) as paper enters the house, is going well.

The system works, tested when I helped my husband complete some forms for a financial adviser appointed by the managers of his one and only Final Salary pension scheme. P60 figures, other pension schemes, mortgage details, open Evernote and there they all are. Three hours of our lives we will never get back and so so dull. We were, however, very motivated to complete these boring forms. Here’s a clue as to why.

The last of the VW campers

So, if I am still chipping away at my paper mountain, what are these three peaks?

Peak One

was all the paperwork my mother kept, after the death of my grandmother in April 2008. It has been sitting in a box, untouched since summer 2008. Briefly made an outing in mid 2011 for a legal reasons, that were settled in 2012, and then after mom passed away, have been in my bedroom for just over 2 years.

After the bedroom blitz a couple of weeks back, when we filled 2 bags of trash and 3 bags for charity, I realised that having a box full of unknown papers, labelled ‘Mom’ in the bedroom was not ideal. They were the last thing I would see before I went to sleep and first thing  I saw when I woke. I suffer from insomnia and interrupted sleep. Seeing this box was probably not conducive to my well-being

It got removed from the bedroom and into the dining/study/dumping/sorting room. I am finding that while this room is messy, having all the stuff that needs to leave the house in here to sort as trash/recycling/donating, helps. I can tackle the job when I have time and in am in the right frame of mind. And can close the door on it when I am not. And today was the day I thought I would go through the box.

It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Indeed it wasn’t hard at all. Nothing emotional, mainly pension and bank statements. Bills from her nursing home. Yet it has taken me over two years to decide to go through it. Nothing I need to keep. Nothing I want to keep for sentimental reasons. Done.

Peak Two

was tackled because writing about dealing with this first mountain, gave me the motivation I needed to do the same with all the paperwork I had to deal with when Mom passed away. Remember, you have to be in the right frame of mind to do this. And I was. Let’s do it.

It took five minutes. One big lever arch folder down to one small file of essential papers; her birth and death certificates and a premium bond. For sentimental reasons I have kept a copy of the funeral service and the talk the celebrant gave about my mother. This was tougher to do, and I needed to keep that, for now.

And that is the thing about de cluttering that I have learnt. Be kind to yourself. Be ruthless too. And know when to let things go and when not to. You may just want to keep one or two things. If they bring joy, good. If they evoke unhappy memories, let them go.

The best feeling? Knowing that I am not leaving all this for my kids to sort out in the future.

And if you need one reason to tackle the paper mountain and start letting go of all those things you hold on to, just in case. Do it so your children or other family don’t have to. De clutter now, for your kids. 

As for those pesky forms, completed and sent. Part of the process required us to describe how we saw our retirement.

This is what we said.

Travelling around Europe in a camper van and house sitting around the world.

I wonder what the financial adviser will make of that? Because when money comes in, a camper hunting we will go. Great motivation to get rid of the the crap in the house too!

Born to go wild!

We are not the pipe and slippers sitting in the conservatory type!

Peak Three

Nearly didn’t get to write about this one. Just about to hit publish when get a request from my son to help him decide what to keep and what to recycle, as he went through his file box. Seems the declutter bug is catching. 

I rescued his school year book and have gained a project book for use at work.

He had bank statements going back to 2007 for accounts that have been closed for many years. I see a pattern emerging through the generations. Keeping unnecessary papers for too long. (May have been me that encouraged him to file everything, just in case).

And finally, the three peak challenge was good training to help me to reach that final summit and finally conquer my paper mountain. But for now I am going to go and make the dinner. And dream of camper vans and bunting.

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