This post is pretty specifically geared towards musicians, though I suppose it could be adapted for a few other fields. Musicians are guilty of having excessive paper storage because of the nature of the profession. Our music is all paper; our memorabilia is paper; the craft of musicianship is such a trade that many are frankly resistant to digitize any aspect of their work.
In graduate school, I worked as an autobiography assistant to an esteemed retired tuba professor. He was a brilliant man with phenomenal stories, but the physical clutter he had accumulated over the years was oppressive. Bookcases were caving in, and it was difficult for him to maneuver through the house in his wheelchair. His basement office had more than 20 filing cabinets packed to the brim. He had saved correspondence with famous composers (including printed emails) and stacks upon stacks of recital programs and advertisement posters (duplicated by the dozen). In my first attempt to thin out the horde of papers, I started recycling duplicates. This caused an absolute fury in my boss’s wife, and was my first lesson in the psychology of organizing. You cannot simply start throwing away someone else’s stuff.
Flash forward a half decade or so, and one snow day I decided to clean out the office. Lo and behold, I was every bit as guilty as the professor of clinging to my programs. The only difference was that I was in my early 30s and he was almost in his 80s. I had kept literally hundreds of spare programs from each recital I gave, plus countless other concerts I had attended. So, I started purging duplicates and papers that were no longer meaningful. Sadly there are no before pictures to demonstrate how much I discarded. The rule I used to keep myself focused was: would it look good in a binder?
Examples of items included in these binders:
- Recital programs (primary focus)
- Jury sheets
- Letters of Recommendation written by professors
- Scholarship Letters and (1) Tuition Bill for reference
I don’t want to bore you with too many pages from these binders, as they are not meant to be interesting to anyone except for me. These are really the non-crafter’s scrapbook. They are not beautiful, nor are they meant to be. These binders (which I already owned) just properly store items I wanted to save for reference and sentimental reasons. Looking back through them makes me happy and I am so glad these paper mementos are preserved in a display rather than shoved in a filing cabinet!
(Sorry if you missed me last week! After battling a horrendous household case of Hand Foot Mouth [which is THE WORST], we traveled to visit family and unplugged for a week. It was wonderful! The family, that is, not the HFM. 😷)