So in my Google search for a good picture of a pile papers to illustrate my previous post I came across a website that I think I am going to love (no this is not the site where I eventually found my picture).
The author uses the following quote in a few of her posts and I think I am going to make this my new mantra
the fewer things you keep, the more special they are
Her website is here: Small Notebook
So one of my major goals for the year is to ‘get my house organized.’ A big part of this mess is my paper file system. It’s absolutely out of control! To make it even more chaotic is half of it is still packed from our move last year. I never bothered unpacking those boxes because I knew they were not active files I needed and I was pregnant at the time and I just didn’t need the extra stress of at least having to SEE the entirety of my paper file nightmare.
There have been several times where I have sat down and spent hours attempting to get my filing system organized but it all ends to no avail. I also ways purge out quite a bit of paper and that does make me feel slightly accomplished but I am still left with a slightly less than before massive of partially organized papers that maybe stacked with their like counterparts but it’s still a PILE! I’ll try filing all of this and realize I don’t have enough file folders that are labeled and ready to go. If I attempt to take the approach put them in the file and label later, I forget what is in each file and then create multiple files of the same category (like electric bills) or spent several extra minutes looking through all of the non-labeled files trying to find the corresponding file for one particular piece of paper. This usually ends up with frustration and I just give up to forget where I was by the time I think about coming back and then I just avoid it some more…its a vicious cycle that just continues as more paper comes into the house.
This time I am attempting to take a different approach. I have been working on a list of categories I believe that I will need corresponding files for. I think I have most of them listed out and now I am going to organize that by master category (i.e. financial, property, medical, etc.). My next step will be the one that I hate but is the most important in order for me to finally get moving on this filing system. I am going to sit down and create a LABELED file folder for each category and subcategory on my list. I am not going to file one single piece of paper until I finish ALL the files as I currently have them. Once I have finished this most crucial step then I will arrange them on my portable file rack in their proper categories. THEN and only then will I start to put files in the labeled and organized file folders.
My problem is I HATE HATE HATE labeling folders. It doesn’t matter if I have a handy labeler or pen..its a monotonous job that will drive me up a wall but I need to make myself do it. I also should probably arrange for someone to watch the girls while I do this part because an energetic and talkative 4-year-old and a needy (and easily bored) 6 month will make this task near impossible to do.
A few months ago Ancestry.com did some updating to their website and their family tree features. One of the new features they introduced was a “view relationship to me” button. I was so excited when I found this new feature. I knew my tree had a great deal of erroneous connections and people that were no longer connected to anyone that needed to be weeded out. At one point I started to make a new, leaner family tree but my heart was still in my first tree…I just didn’t want to start all the way over from scratch even though I went a little overboard (ok WAY overboard) with my tree as I started my research.
I have spent the last several months going person by person through my entire tree using this button. I think I have removed somewhere around 4000 people from my tree that were not connected or were only connected by marriage to one extremely distant cousin and really didn’t need to be in my tree any longer. Today, I am FINALLY 100% finished with going through all the people in my tree. As I type this I believe I have one family left to sort through and that will only take about 15 minutes of my time. Now I will have to start this process over unfortunately because as I deleted some families I missed the spouse and children of the children I deleted…so I have to double check one more time. I know that will take a couple of more months of gradual work to get through but it will be quicker this time because I won’t have millions of hints popping up for everyone anymore (Ive already sorted through the majority of those). I have also changed the last names of my direct ancestors (or at least 90% of them) to all capitals so I can find my direct line more quickly as I look at the lists of names.
I can’t wait to get back to the point that I can start digging deeper for more information about my main family lines and try to answer some of the questions that I have and better trace their migrations. But first I want to make sure the people in my tree is as clean and lean as possible…