The Thing About Paper Piles

The Thing about Paper Piles at

I’m a Paper Pile Hater. I’ll admit it.

Paper piles contain so many decisions to be made, and those decisions overwhelm me on their own, so a pile full of overwhelming decisions makes me hold my eyes just so until the blurring lets me not see the mess.

But I’ve learned a thing or two (or seventy-eleven) about piles in general over the past six years of my deslobification process.

Thing One: Once I start tackling piles, they’re never rarely as bad as I imagine them to be.

Thing Two: Smaller piles stress me out less than bigger ones.

Thing Three: My made-up rule to Do the Easy Stuff First applies to every single clutter situation and works every single time.

So how does this work in a paper pile?

Doing the Easy Stuff First means looking for trash first. When paper is in a pile, I see the pile. I see the volume and the mass and I’m overwhelmed by the pile itself.

I think every single part of that pile is going to stress me out. If the first paper I pull off the top is one of those should-I-keep-this-probably-not-but-what-if-I-should pieces, then I want to turn away and ignore the mess, convincing myself it’s better to have piles than not have a piece of paper that could potentially save our lives.

Or keep us out of jail.

But if I give myself permission to do what’s easy, I look through the pile and don’t even worry about anything except trash.

Trash. Empty envelopes or extra blank pages that came with the oh-so-important papers.

Like these empty envelopes that were part of a pile of the random non-online bills we get. That was a crazy-important pile of stress. But even though I was confident everything in that pile was life-or-death-necessary, I looked for trash in it anyway. And since I found trash, the pile shrank and so did my stress.

And usually, when I let myself look for the obvious trash in an attempt to shrink the pile(s), I find obvious-but-not-so-obvious trash as well and it shrinks even more. Things like junk mail or out-of-date school notes.

Have you shrunk your piles lately?


Other paper-related posts: How to Reduce Paper Clutter

How to Reduce Paper Clutter: the Podcast

How to Declutter Birthday Cards

P.S. I had to google shrink, shrank, shrunk. Here’s hoping I used them correctly!

The Thing about Paper Piles Step One at


4 Kinds of Clothes to Purge (Obvious, but Strangely Not)

4 Kinds of Clothes to Purge (Obvious, but Strangely Not) at

I’m on a quest to purge my clothing. I keep telling myself I need to make a project of it, but that hasn’t happened yet. Thankfully, though, I’ve learned the value of Purging as I Go, or a lifestyle of decluttering, so I pitch a few things here and there when I realize their time has come and gone.

Here are a few of my latest clothing purges, and why I deemed them clutter:

decluttering clothes pink dress at A

A dress that looks awful on me.

I got this dress on Schoola along with another dress exactly like it, but in black. The black one looks awesome on me (if I do say so myself), but the pink one doesn’t. It soooo doesn’t.

Which makes me mad.  I mean, it’s the same size, the same material, the exact same design, but so so wrong. My guess is that while black minimizes things that need to be minimized, pink maximizes those same things. Those same things that do NOT need to be maximized.

Being mad about this irrefutable fashion fact made me hesitate in pitching this dress several times. But I finally stuck it in the Donate Box. Yay for not wasting my time trying it on again. And being mad when it looks awful on me. Again.

declutter clothes jeans with hole at

Jeans that reveal way too much.

I loved these jeans. I got them for an amazing price and they fit well.

But a few months ago, my daughter asked me if I was wearing pink undies.

Evidently, they had developed small (still small at that time) holes near the pockets. Small, but big enough to see pink. I tried wearing them with long shirts for a while but my daughter was more adamant each time I wore them that I shouldn’t be wearing them. I tried only wearing them at home. But again, daughters don’t have much patience for moms and their fashion excuses.

Finally, when I felt them full-on rip, I purposely did a few squats so they’d rip enough to save me from myself. I threw them in the trash.

declutter clothes coat at

A coat no one in this house can wear.

I happened to notice this coat when I was getting the vacuum cleaner out of our coat closet. We’re in Texas, and there weren’t many coat-related reasons to rummage around in there this winter.

Ummm, this coat is adorable, but it’s a size 4. As in for a four-year-old.

And my daughter (my youngest child) is almost 10.

I donated it.

declutter clothes return dress at

A dress I’ll never actually return.

I so wanted to like this dress. I bought it at Costco, so trying it on wasn’t possible, but I was sure it would work.

It didn’t.

It’s just way too long, and the stripes fall at a funny place and make me look weird. (It’s the stripes that are the problem, not me, I’m sure.)

I know. I could totally get it hemmed. Or I could return it to Costco.

But I won’t.

And it felt kind of nice to donate it with the tags on. Maybe someone who is tall and looks good in stripes will get a great deal on it.

What clothes have you donated lately, and why?

Decluttering My Closet 4 Things I Purged and Why at


Not Saving Totally Savable Stuff

Not Saving Totally Savable Stuff at

Note: I found this post when looking through my “drafts” for things I’d started writing but never finished. The only problem with posting it now is that we’re in talks/negotiations about how we’re going to celebrate this child’s 10th birthday. Which means I wrote this post almost a year ago. Whatever. I’m sharing it.

It’s a birthday banner.

Three weeks after the party, it was still hanging in my dining room.


The hooplah from turning 9 had officially died down, and no one even noticed it was there.

Or that it was gone.savable stuff birthday banner at

As I carried it straight to the Donate Box, I thought about how Once Upon a Time, I’d have saved it. It was completely and totally savable.


It came out of the package, was attached to the wall, and then came down again. No rips or wrinkles or anything.

And it wasn’t Nine Specific.

But I simply didn’t want to store it. At Walmart, it cost me 99 cents.

It wasn’t worth the 99 cents I’d need to spend (on the OFF chance I’d want another one EXACTLY like it in the future) to go through the hassle of determining where Future Me would look for it first. It wasn’t worth 99 cents to give up the space in my home that could otherwise be used for things we do use more than once or twice in a lifetime.

Or space we use for . . . moving around without bumping into stuff.

As I thought these things and placed it in the Donate Box, I suddenly remembered something.

Three feet away in the garage, there’s a storage chest where I keep . . . birthday stuff.

birthday banner 2 saveable stuff at

Sure enough, inside it I found another strangely similar birthday banner.

I hope someone else two other people at the thrift store will enjoy finding cute banners for their girls’ birthdays.

I just hope they don’t pay more than 99 cents.



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