I always recommend that my clients be as ruthless as possible when filing paper. When are you going to look at that again? Why would you need it in the future? What terrible thing is going to happen if you get rid of it? When was the last time you even opened that drawer?
Part of my agenda is to get them to keep less paper because paper takes up space, space that could be used better by more useful items. Another agenda I have reflects my attitude toward filing: I hate it. So it naturally follows that the less one needs to file, the better.
Are you with me on that?
Yes, I hate filing. I have a perfectly serviceable system and I can find things in it. That’s not the problem.
I’m not sure why I hate it so much, but let me explore. One reason is that I often am pretty sure that I will not look at a piece of paper again, ever, but it’s hard to get rid of. I just don’t want to make that decision. There’s a little cloud of uncertainty that I don’t want to investigate.
A related reason is that I don’t like opening those drawers full of paper I haven’t looked at in forever. I feel burdened by having all that paper, and by not wanting to deal with it. Putting more in there makes me feel guilty.
Here are some less hateful strategies for keeping files in decent shape:
- Have a filing in box. With all your to-be-filed papers in one spot, you’ll still be able to find things even if you haven’t filed them yet. 😉
- Look in the back of some over-stuffed folders. If you file with current items in front, the oldest stuff will be in back. That’s the paper that’s most likely to be unneeded.
- Go though some folders where decision making will be easy, such as one for instruction manuals. Find manuals for appliances that you no longer own and toss them.
Do you have any great file taming ideas? Let me know!