I’ve been working with a client on a variety of organizing projects. Our last session she asked me to help her with making decisions about the cards she receives from family and friends. First she showed me a small pile, mostly holiday cards, that she wasn’t sure if she should save this year.
The real issue was that she has three banker’s boxes in her hall closet filled with greeting cards she’s received over decades. It’s one of the projects we’ll be working on together next month. She regrets that she procrastinated along the way because she’s going to be paying me to help her go through them all in order to limit the keepers to one small box.
I gave her this advice:
Start each calendar year fresh by going through the cards you’ve received over the previous year.
Have you ever thought that some note cards are just like a quick phone call: “Just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you” or “I hope you feel better soon” or a holiday card where the sender simply signs it.
If you read those or any cards two or more times, I hope you realize that you’ve seen it more times than most people ever do their own.
Imagine if you called each sender and asked them the following questions:
“Do you want or expect me to keep this card forever?”
“Would you want me to keep this if you knew it became problematic for me?”
“Would you want me to keep it if you knew that sometimes I let chronic indecision stall me? If everything then becomes overwhelming and I end up hiring a professional organizer to help me decide what to do with a jumbled pile of papers, your card included?”
I’m sure your friends and family would reassure you: “I just wanted to touch base, no need to keep it”.
Certainly you may want to keep some cards such as special birthdays, very important events and cards with a long, lovely handwritten message.
Absolutely keep those – until the end of the year. At that time look at them again, hold them, think about the people who sent them, consider responding to the sender with “I just came across the lovely card you sent me earlier this year. I’m still touched by it”.
You may still want to keep a handful of the ‘best of the best’ to save forever.
However, feel free to toss the rest. It’s okay. Really.
So starting with today…
When you first receive a card, write the address on the back of the card and immediately toss the envelope. Later you can check the address, and if necessary, make changes in your address book or database.
Take time to read every word. Think about the person who sent it. Decide if you want to send a card in return. If you do, write the task on your calendar. (I’ve designated Sunday as my day for written correspondence.)
Ask yourself if you’d like to save it at least until the end of the year. If not, kiss it goodbye and toss it.
If you’d like to save it, find a special place for it. A decorative basket could hold it with others until you’re ready to make a more definitive decision in January next year.
Please know ahead of time, if you receive a card from me, I firmly expect you to toss it. You should probably open it first though; I’ve been known to tuck in a little something from time to time.