Thursday, October 5, 2017

Day Five: Location, Location, Location

Having achieved my first decluttering goal of emptying one file cabinet drawer, I'm not only ecstatic, but eager to complete the implied second step: filling it once again. There is an entire storage box of family history files which would fit in its empty space just perfectly—if only for one thought.

That thought came, courtesy of my favorite real estate agent. Perhaps you know that time-worn bit of real estate advice, too: the realtor's mantra about the three most important things about buying property.

Not that I'm buying myself more real estate in this fall cleaning transaction; I'm only hoping to transfer ownership on the stuff that gets to claim this drawer as home base. I have boxes of files just waiting for the chance to see the light of day—or at least a more accessible way to be the kind of documents I need.

However, I got to thinking, now that I've cleared a spot for those storage files to claim. Just how often am I going to want to bend over and pull out that floor-level drawer? Would it really be the wisest move to just start filling that drawer with the first files I lay my hands on?

Of course not. (You knew that answer was coming.) There has to be a plan—well, besides the plan to chuck every document I no longer need to keep in a tangible form.

Enter the concept of convenience in my re-organization plan. There are folks who want to organize their family history alphabetically by surnames. Others may want to organize by time periods or geographic locations—or create a cross-referenced file for three-way access. Now that the floor seems so much farther away than I remember it being in the past, I think I'll add the criterion of convenience to that list.

In order to figure out just which items would win the coveted spot for greatest accessibility, I'll have to know something more about what I have in those storage boxes. Even more to the point, I'll need to determine which of the items will be kept, at all.

This sounds like a triage moment in the making. Not a moment to blithely forge ahead. Progress is stalled, once again.

That means, of course, peeking ahead to what I hope to accomplish tomorrow: start cleaning out the next drawer in that four-drawer file cabinet. Yep: a mess. A drawer full of everything from once-important papers in hanging file folders to a back end stacked high with old calendars and old checkbooks.

I got a jump on tomorrow's task by snatching up every item that could be shredded, and moving it out to the bin where I keep that sort of stuff. Gotta have a system, you know.

The calendars will take some thought. I used those old "day minder" type calendars differently than my pretty wall-hanging varieties. With entries listed hour by hour, those books turned into journals of past accomplishments and records of all sorts of mundane tasks. I can likely glean what's important—milestones in life, for instance—and, like the old checkbooks, chuck the rest of them.

Still, that all takes time—but not as much time as the rest of the drawer. Going through each of those file folders will take a lot of consideration. Hopefully, they will also require a lot of garbage bags, for I'm hoping those contents, too, will mostly merit a simple case of recycling the paper. Otherwise, there will be a long stretch of transcribing details into a more permanent—and, likely, electronic—repository.

Meanwhile, heeding that real estate mantra—location, location, location—I'll be pondering what will be the most worthy use of that rock-bottom drawer in my nearly halfway reclaimed file cabinet. I assure you: it won't be anything heavy. And it won't be anything I'll be pulling out to consult on a daily basis. Perhaps the bedrock-foundational documentation we genealogists require will be the most logical choice for that important location.

Above: "Last Gleams of Summer," 1922 oil on canvas by Russian emigre artist Konstantin Gorbatov; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. Be very careful working around a file cabinet that has an empty bottom drawer. To stabilize it while you make your decision about what belongs there, you might want to stack some books in it.

    Your nagging friend,

    1. Marian, I love your "nagging" thoughts! Please feel free! I appreciate it.

      To assure you--as I have, in the past, experienced exactly what you are talking about--my file cabinet is already secured against a bookcase, within a closet...along with more piles of stuff than I care to admit having been stacked on top. In addition, I'm being careful to not open any of the full drawers more than a bit as I lighten their load. Hopefully, I'll make the switch soon and that imbalance will be corrected safely!

  2. Yes load it with books until you are make a decision:)

    1. Good idea, Far Side. I was considering bringing in some heavy rocks, but I have some tomes that would do the job just as well.

  3. Replies
    1. So glad you are back, Far Side--and feeling much better, I hope!


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