Petit Fours » A group blog of authors writing in different genres

Masthead header

Save or Toss? and 10,000 Steps


By Tami Brothers

Weighted down with tons of paper

The company I work for decided to do a major 6S type cleaning this past month in preparation to achieve Silver Certification for an OSHA VPP program.  My bay ended up shredding more than 11,000 pounds of paper.  This completely filled a CINTAs shreddingtruck (holds 10,000 pounds) and we had to call for a second one.  Scary part is that my area is only one bay out of many.  I can just imagine the tons of other documents lying around still needing to be shredded.  

This was a major overhaul of our filing system and raised a bunch of questions on what papers needed to be saved and for how long.  We ended up having to call the legal department on a few items.

With me being the overachiever that I am and with 2012 being my Year of Physical and Spiritual Growth, I decided I was going to tackle my home filing system in much the same way. 

6S at home

Just like at the office, the big question was “what do I save and what do I toss?”

Last month I blogged about Making Organization an Olympic Sport and referenced an awesome book called Organize Now – A Week-by-week Guide to Simplifying Your Space and Your Life by Jennifer Ford Berry.  Not knowing how best to get started with this overwhelming task, I grabbed the book.  Jennifer Ford Berry provides a step by step guide on how best to tackle this situation.  Just to give you an idea of the wealth of information, I’ll reference a small section from page 52.

Here’s a list to help you decide what financial items to keep or shred:

ATM Receipts… Put with taxes if necessary; otherwise toss

College Savings statements… Keep the most recent

Credit card receipts…make sure they are correct, record expenses and only keep the most current

Insurance policies and bills…Only keep the most current

Medical bills…Keep for three years

Mortgage records…Keep for as long as you own the property

Mutual fund statements…Only keep the annual reports

Selling records of previously owned property… Save and file”

This information was exactly what I’d been searching for. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve worked my way through my filing cabinets and am now wading through the last three years’ worth of documents that I’ve saved. 

What to keep

One example of a great use for this information is with the records hubby’s had me keep of the properties we’ve remodeled, built and sold.  I’ve wanted to shred them for years but am now glad that I did not.  I had no idea these were documents we really needed to keep for the long haul.:) 

This is a very small part of the gems filling this book.  If you haven’t already grabbed a copy, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Step by step

Switching thought processes, I also wanted to share information on an amazing fitness tracker I found. My FIL sent hubby this cool little gadget called a FitBit.  Not only did hubby get one, but so did his mom and his two sisters.  After only two weeks, hubby has lost four pounds and is on track to meet his weight loss goal by September. 

After watching them have all the fun, I broke down and bought my own.  Now, I’ll admit right up front that it isn’t cheap.  We paid $105 at Best Buy. But after studying the options available with the on-line program, I knew this little black pedometer was going to make tracking my fitness and weight loss goals much easier than with what I’ve been doing this past year. 

Not only does it keep track of my steps, but it monitors the hills and stairs I walk, keeps track of my calorie intake (you do have to input the food you eat, but I was doing that with the fitness app I was already using), correlates the number of calories burned compared to those taken in, and even monitors my sleeping patterns.  A bonus with the FitBit is that you get to friend other people using the same program, cheer them on and use their encouragement to keep you moving. 

Growing a garden

One of the coolest things has been working to receive the virtual awards for meeting my 10,000 steps, watching the leaves grow on my FitBit flower and trying to negotiate with a computer on how many more calories I can finagle in order to eat that evening snack. 

As silly as it sounds, it’s been a lot fun.

Now that I’ve worked my way through my filing system and found a great way to hold myself accountable to the exercise program I committed to, I’ve started to tackle a second pass through the extra stuff we weren’t able to part with during last year’s decluttering process.  Stop back Thursday, May 3rd to see how well that went over with hubby and The Kid. 

Care to share some of your filing tips and tricks? 

Do you keep a boat load of papers or are you a tosser? 

Do you have any ideas on making our fitness goals easier to keep up with? 

I’d love to hear them and as a way to encourage you to share, I’ll give away a $5 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter. 

Picture from

Jane - April 5, 2012 - 1:22 am

I’m a saver. I have receipt from ten years ago. I have been getting better at tossing papers out that I don’t think I’ll need anymore like really old bank statements.

Mary Preston - April 5, 2012 - 5:28 am

Where I come from a TOSSER has another meaning altogether. (I had to read the question twice. Laughing too much the first.) I will just say I don’t hoard. I don’t have the space to save everything, so every now & then I have a ruthless clear out.

Marilyn Baron - April 5, 2012 - 7:08 am

I don’t know the other meaning for tosser, but before I read Mary’s comment I was going to say, “I’m not a tosser.” But now I’ll just say, I need to do a major 6S Type Cleaning of my office.

Dianna Love - April 5, 2012 - 8:14 am

Wow, you’re really doing a great job of getting organized. I like things put wherever they’re supposed to go. My desk will get some piles on occasion if I”m too busy in the writing cave to set up a spot or file for whatever doesn’t have a home yet, but the minute I take a break I’m putting things away. I have a rule of trying to “handle something once.” The more times you move it around, the more of my time it takes and I hate that. You’re doing a great service by sharing your tips and your enthusiasm to get organized.

Sia Huff - April 5, 2012 - 10:15 am

Great job, Tami.
We just went though the filing cabinet and it’s still full. Sound like I need that book, Organize now.
I love Dianna’s tip of just “handling something once”. Great advice as well. I to try and do that, along with having a home for everything. But with two adults and two teenagers all going in different directions, sometimes we clutter.

Emily Sewell - April 5, 2012 - 11:35 am

Great blog. I’m struggling against clutter myself. Seems like a two-steps-forward-one-step-back process to me. Some days the piles motivate me, some days the mind resists. Hoping your comments will motivate me when I get home! Good news is that I often follow Dianna’s rule these days. I simply have to be consistent! And I’ll definitely check out that FitBit. Looks like a useful tool even if you keep it simple. Thanks, Tami!

Maxine - April 5, 2012 - 11:51 am

What can I say? My favorite saying when I look at this room is, “One of these days…” I know “one of these days ” is coming this summer. I’ve marked it on my calendar. I sure hope I keep that date! Hooray for you! You are really sticking to it.

Tami Brothers - April 5, 2012 - 2:40 pm

Hey Jane! You are doing better than me. I still have all my old bank statements from when Hubby and I got married. That’s almost 21 years. Yikes… :( As you probably guessed, I have a bunch of Rubbermaid containers full of stuff to go through. Thanks for stopping by! :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 5, 2012 - 2:40 pm

Hey Mary! Yikes! Had to Google that. Goes to show you have to be VERY careful with how you word things. ;) Regarding the “hording”, I’m in the same boat. Way too small of space, which is why the major reorg. :) As you can probably tell, I’m in the middle of that ruthless clear out. Thanks a ton for the laugh. :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 5, 2012 - 2:41 pm

Hi Marilyn! LOL! Love the way you said that. :) :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 5, 2012 - 2:41 pm

Hey Dianna! Like Sia, I love the approach you take. Handling once. I need to incorporate that. I’m working to par down some of our extra stuff so I can move my office into the spare room and out of the living room. I really thought it wouldn’t be that distracting, but man was I wrong. :) Love seeing you!!! :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 5, 2012 - 2:41 pm

Hey Sia! LOL on the full filing cabinets. Hubby thought by buying me a lateral two-drawer, we would be good. He didn’t realize I had small file crates in various places. I filled that puppy up right off the bat. Now I need to go through them and decide what I just can’t part with compared to what I think I will eventually use. That is a tough step for me. I can definitely relate with that two adults and teen. Hubby and The Kid have been the hardest to get on board with this whole process. You really should see their shop. They won’t even let me near it. Thanks for stopping by. :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 5, 2012 - 2:42 pm

Hi Emily!!! How’s it going, girl? You sound like your line dancing… ;) I’m right there with ya. Hubby and The Kid have really only gotten on board with this process because they’ve seen how useful it “could have” been. I had the task of writing down serial numbers and taking photos of the stuff we own scheduled for a certain week and the week before The Kid’s bike was stole from in front of our house. That (and a few other things) has shown them how important this harebrained idea I have really is. Definitely check out the FitBit. I thought I could totally do the stuff it does on my own with my cheap pedometer and free app on my phone. But after seeing the things Hubby’s did, I was amazed. I even did a comparison with what I was doing compared to the FitBit and was shocked at how much stuff I missed. There was no way I could accurately calculate the calories I was using throughout the day because I couldn’t see the intensity levels of my daily activities. Oh and another thing I didn’t notice was how sedentary I was being. After a week of seeing how long I spent at my desk (at work and during my writing), I was amazed at the spans of time I went without moving. Not a good thing. I think you will like it. See ya! :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 5, 2012 - 2:42 pm

Hey Maxine! One of these days will get here. I promise ya. I keep saying that as well, but by scheduling it on the calendar, it helps to keep that someday in the line of sight. I know you can do it!!! :alien:

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - April 5, 2012 - 3:04 pm

OMG, when I started out in writing, I printed everything of any value out. I’ve got boxes and boxes of ‘stuff’ to go through. Honestly, if I wasn’t afraid that there were some old copies of manuscripts in there, I’d throw out the lot. However, I wanted to keep those because I’d like to use them in a workshop one day. 1st version vs. polished.

I’m definitely a packrat. Even though we’ve moved numerous times and culled through a lot, the other day I ran across a wedding invitation from a college roommate – circa 1982!!!

Emily Sewell - April 5, 2012 - 4:18 pm

Serial number registration is one of the things I really need to get on top of, too! Another good reminder.

Like Carol, and probably a lot of us, I used to print out everything. I no longer fear that I won’t be able to find the information again. If I do see something I want to keep, I “print” it to CutePDF Writer and file it in my computer. It’s lovely. I can always print it out later if I have a need. Have probably saved a tree or two in the last few years. lol

Tami Brothers - April 5, 2012 - 8:06 pm

Hey Carol! That’s exactly what I have right now. Files and files full of writing info that I thought would be great to have. I looked in one of the files about networking and realized that it was all about MySpace. :) Definitely going to have to go through those. I LOVE the idea of using those old drafts for future workshops. You will do an amazing job with that and I would love to take your classes. 1982???? That is a good one. Thanks for stopping by. :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 5, 2012 - 8:06 pm

Hey Emily! Never heard of CutePDF Writer. Thanks a ton for sharing that. I will definitely be looking it up. I could really use something and I’m sure the trees would appreciate it as well. Thanks Em!!! :alien:

Linsey Lanier - April 5, 2012 - 11:45 pm

I think my office needs a dumptruck… I will get around to clearing things out. Once I get my twenty novels written… Actually, I’m a hoarder trying to become tosser. Thanks for the push, Tami. Maybe week after next? :oops:

Pamela Mason - April 6, 2012 - 6:52 am

I’d like to say I’m like Dianna- handling things just once and putting them where they belong. But my tendency is to “file” it and then forget it – for years! Suze Ormon is a finance guru and something she says sticks with me- if you’ve got clutter, you’re losing money; clean and throw away 12 items every day. It forces you to think about the amount of money wasted on unused, unnecessary items that you’re buried in, and the amount of money that could have been put towards a useful purpose, lie a 529 college savings plan.
Oh Tami- I could go on and on, but maybe I’ll piggyback your post when mine appears next time, because I have a whole lot more to say on this little thing (not so little).
Yay with the FitBit! I can’t spend the money on it, but I’m working all the free apps you touched on in your post. That kewl techie thing makes it all much easier though, doesn’t it?

Pam Asberry - April 6, 2012 - 8:57 am

I need to get myself a copy of the book you mentioned and do a serious purge in my house. One of my challenges is that all of my hobbies – beading, sewing, scrapbooking – generate huge amounts of clutter. And when I’m in the middle of a project, everything around me tends to fall apart. Sigh. I would love to have a FitBit, but right now am contenting myself with RunKeeper and LoseIt! I have lost only seven pounds since the first of the year, but if I can lose seven more I will be right where I want to be. My original target date was April 30th; I am moving it to my birthday, August 15th. Chugga, chugga, choo, choo…

Sandra Elzie - April 6, 2012 - 10:21 am

You’re a great motivator. I recently removed everything from my office when it got a new “dress” …ie different color of paint on her walls. I only moved the important stuff back in & tossed the rest. (oh, I think I know the other meaning……does it by chance precede ______your cookies”?)

Anyway, I hoard books, routinely clean out tax files over 20 years old & Keep a big supply of tab folders so I can file everything where it belongs soon as I record the taxable items.

Oh, one last thing…congrats on finding a healthy way to lose weight & record it. I use a simple Excel Spread sheet to track my weight loss. I no longer list what I’m eating since I obviously have that part of life under control now.

Susan - April 7, 2012 - 4:35 pm

I keep basic income tax stuff for seven years, when I put a new one in I toss the old out. I do pull out anything that I think might be needed down the road but that hasn’t happened yet. I trim as much as I can all the time.

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 11:04 am

Hey Pamela!!!I love that Suze Ormon comment. Totally sticks with you. I’ll give those 12 items a try. Not sure how it will go. Please let me know when you post your blog post. I would love to see what you have to say. I am all for learning something new. Regarding the FitBit. I would never have bought one (or even two). I’ve been plugging away, counting calories, trying to estimate my calorie output compared to my input. It can be a lot of work. When Hubby started using his present from his dad, I was amazed that something that took me months to learn was all right there with that one little gadget. I hate to admit this, but I used Hubby’s shoe budget (he needs two new pairs for work…) to buy it. I’ll add them back in over the next couple of months. Besides, the ones he’s wearing aren’t that bad. Yet… :) :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 11:04 am

Hey Pam! Definitely grab that book. Even if you don’t do everything listed, there is something that everyone needs to at least incorporate into their lives. It makes things a whole lot easier when you are looking stuff up. Pam, if there is any way at all you can grab a FitBit, do so. I would never have spent that money. Honest. I thought I was doing great using those same programs you are using. But once I started using this FitBit, everything I was trying to keep track of was right there. It correlates everything, even taking into account the regular walking I do on a daily basis. This thing opened my eyes to the long periods of sedentary time I spent at my desk. There is even a program called FitBolt that ties in with the FitBit and sends you little messages after a set amount of time on your computer and has you do little exercises that are tracked by the FitBit. I promise I’m not making any money of this (don’t I wish…). But I am a true believer. I can totally see another blog post in the future just about this alone. :) You will definitely make it to that Aug 30th date. I have faith in you. :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 11:05 am

Hey Sandy!!! Love that outlook on the new paint. Never thought of it that way. I love decorating, so thinking of it with the “dress” reference makes me smile. Great job on the filing. Very good system to have. And the Excel spreadsheet is a fabulous idea. You are doing an amazing job. Keep it up!!! :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 11:05 am

Hey Susan! Yay on keeping up with that stuff! You are definitely on a roll and we could all take a lesson out of your book. I hope to get to that point. I promise I will. Maybe this year. :) Thanks a ton for stopping by and commenting. I do appreciate it. :alien:

Tami Brothers - April 8, 2012 - 11:07 am

Annnnndddddd I used the trusty randomizer program to draw a number between 0 and 22. The winner of the $5 Amazon gift card iiiiiisssssss……..

#15 Emily Sewell

Yay Emily!!!

Again, a huge thank you to all those who stopped by and left a comment. You guys rock!

Tami :alien:

Emily Sewell - April 9, 2012 - 9:30 am

I like that randomizer! :D Thank you, Tami. This was a great conversation that spurred me to do a few things right this weekend. Now I have to build on that. Take care!

F O L L O W   U S
R E C E N T   T W E E T S