This is not the blogpost I intended to write. That was about designers' favourite flowers, as discussed at a Futurescape seminar last November. But that's on hold. Why? Because I can't find the blasted notes. Does this happen to you?
The annoyance precipitated, over the last couple of days, a search through paper - and paper is everywhere. Which explains why the notebook has disappeared, and it has me pondering: What do other people about the incoming streams of information? I have piles of gardening and industry magazines - Kitchen Garden, The Garden Design Journal, ProLandscaper, Which? Gardening, The Garden...
My victory yesterday was throwing out a year's worth of The Oldie, to which I subscribed in 2008 to gauge whether it might be a magazine I could write for. I never got round to thinking up quirky articles for it, and such aged mags are useless for market research. It was lovely putting them in the bin.
But what about the gardening ones? In theory, they're an extensive reference (though sadly only Which? Gardening includes an annual index nowadays). If I look through them I'll find articles about things that weren't of interest but now are. From where I am right now I can see that a The Garden from 2011 has an article on selecting cooking apples to grow, which I'm intending to do this year.
(In fact, hold on, I'll just go and get it before that disappears too.)
But it's not just magazines, which since yesterday are now tied in neat bundles of twelve, according to year. Still taking up space, but looking...ordered. What about the notes for blogposts and articles? The press releases that might come in handy for that article that requires more research than you've currently got time for? How do you organise all that paper?
When I first began writing I kept the notes for articles published in cardboard folders. Now, they're bulging and spilling all over the place. My working space looks nothing if not creative, but the tidemark of paper is threatening to wash across the floor.
I could disembowel the mags. But have you ever tried downsizing in this manner? I once trawled through years of writing magazines, cutting out articles that might prove useful. The result was that, instead of mountains of magazines, I had a slippery pile of giant ring-binders, full of ragged pages that I never looked at again. I think they're still in the loft.
Sometimes I imagine I'll be found one day, squashed flat beneath a splayed pile of A4 glossies, paper mites testing out the palatability of my flesh. It would only be just. I've always found it difficult to throw things away, but paper-held information is, by far, my worst vice (let's not contemplate the state of my archived emails).
So what should I do about it? I'm looking for help here. What do you do? Do you find it easy to chuck things? How long do you leave it? Do you have a clear list of subjects that you save information on, and throw away everything else? Have you got an amazing filing system? Or memory?
There's no doubt that Something Has To Be Done. But how do I bring myself to do it? What do you do? Is this even a problem you have? I'd love to hear how you manage to keep on top of things.