I took some time to go through my Evernote files and pare my categories down to the most basic and broad. I am proud to say that I am currently down to 4 notebook stacks. I didn’t take a before picture, but I believe I used to have closer to 10 stacks.
When I first started using Evernote, there were 2 levels of organization available: notebooks and notes. A notebook is a collection of notes. It bothered me that there were only 2 levels at first, because I really like to group similar items together and felt like I needed one more level of categorization. If I am thinking about my blog, I don’t want to have to scroll through items related to my job. I keep them separate. Now, with the ability to create stacks, I can happily group my information into small number of broad categories, and then group like sub-categories of information within each stack.
I honestly didn’t take my most recent purge and organization too seriously, which is probably a good thing for me. Like the furniture in a room, I will likely continue to develop my personal organization system overtime. It will change as the things in my life change. It is important to recognize that the system is flexible and can and will be easily updated when life situations necessitate change.
I am pretty pleased with how minimalist my new filing system is (for me). I am sure I could delete more stuff, but I went on a deleting spree this past weekend, deleting fearlessly many things that were no longer relevant, and likely hadn’t been relevant for a year or longer.
I have heard the rule of thumb for clothes in a closet that if you haven’t worn an item for 6 months or a year, it is a pretty safe bet that you can get rid of it. Why not the same approach for files? There are some things that we need to keep even if they are not routinely used, but as I was going through my files I realized that I was holding on to so many things that I just really didn’t need anymore. Things that I could easily look up on the internet if I ever really needed to access them again, or if in the unlikely event that I needed to access something I got rid of, I could come up with a crafty way to get my hands on it.
My inspiration for letting things go that I was holding on to that were no longer relevant is the philosophy that when you release something from your live that has become stagnant, you open up space for new, better things to come into your life. In Julie Morgenstern’s book Organizing from the Inside Out, she gives a good example from her own life. She had thought she was going to be an actress, and had held on to many old playbooks and things related to her drama pursuits. She had actually not been even involved with the theater for a while, but was holding on to the books because she thought “maybe someday”. One day she decided that they were no longer relevant, as she realized that that was no longer her dream. She got rid of the bulk of it, and several months later doors were opening up for her fledgling? organizing business as they hadn’t before.
After deleting many, many notes, notebooks, and notebook stacks, I have rested on 4 stacks total for now, each with varying numbers of notebooks as I needed. The 4 stacks are my major categories that I decided on, and the notebooks within the stacks help me to further categorize information. Here is a breakdown of what I did:
My 4 Major Filing Categories:
The Hipster is where I have information that I would like to refer to quickly or frequently. This is where I listed my affirmations, goals, reminders, rituals, and shared shopping list. I also have a reference notebook for personal reference information, such as scans of documents that I have saved hard copies (car title, passport) other documents that have come in the mail that I felt the need to save (such as insurance documentation), etc. Basically, anything that I would like to refer back to someday that I couldn’t justify creating a whole other category for goes here.
“Annie” is all of my personal information, “Weekday” is all of my work-related information, and “Writing” is where I do my writing for this blog, my book proposal, and any other writing projects I might work on in the future, as well as resources and notes related to writing. I decided that this was a big enough category in my life to dedicate a whole notebook stack to.