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One of the first things I hear from clients who want me to help with their paper mis-management is this very sentence: I can’t throw all this away, I may need it! The feeling is perfectly legitimate and understandable, but in most cases it’s simply not true.  

You see, a full 80% of papers filed are never looked at again. Never . And this is true both at home - maybe even more so at home - and at work. So most of what you keep you can just throw away with no consequences whatsoever.  

People often want to keep documents just in case they may need them again:
- just in case I may want to make this recipe, even though I always go back to the same book, and never look at the recipes I’ve collected over the years.
- just in case this client comes back
- just in case I need every single one of the drafts of a document I created
- etc.  

Here is the thing, though: unless you know that you'll need this document again, have to keep it for legal, tax or (pardon my French) cover-my-behind-at-work reasons, or want to keep it for sentimental reasons, the paper you're holding in your hand is probably just taking up valuable real estate that you could use for better things.  

IIf you want to keep it because it has great information, keep it only if there is absolutely no other way for you to find the information again, or if you know you’ll refer to it often. If you are not sure you’ll need it, or will need it only very occasionally, and you can find it online, by asking a co-worker, or any other way, the hassle of keeping, storing, filing the paper is not worth the little extra time it’ll take you to find the information again... if you ever need it.  

Now that you have those elements to judge from, how many of the papers cluttering your space do you really need to have? What would your space look like if you threw away 80% of the papers in it, papers that are just hogging space anyway?  

Next installment: Getting and Staying Organized is Hard!

Yours in Daily Mastery,

PS: Still not sure how to get rid of all your paper clutter? Go to [Link Removed] and decide if this is the right way for you to get your paper mess under control once and for all... (mention that you come from Fabulously40 when signing up and you'll get a second laser coaching session at no charge along with the program).

Karin, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Mar 5, 2010
    • So what about scanning into your computer and saving it under docs????

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Karin Vibe-Rheymer-Stewart, Ph.D. wrote Mar 5, 2010
    • Works, but even your computer has storage limits. estatic

      I’ve seen computers that were so clogged with docs that my client wanted to get a new one, but once we were done, their hard drive was more than half empty.  

      In my opinion, we should treat electronic documents according to the same rules we use for paper ones.  

      The one advantage of computers over filing cabinets is that in computers you don’t need to be as organized as long as you have a good desktop tool to search for what you need. And a computer, or even an external hard drive, takes seriously less space. happy

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Kyah wrote Mar 7, 2010
    • I like that idea, because I’m toting around years of not only my own stuff, but my late grandmother’s legal stuff as well. I have a huge bag of my stuff to be shredded, but haven’t found the time to sit and shred. I also keep all my writings and drawings, which are about to be placed in folders and bins.

      I have a solution to junk that comes in the mail; since our mail boxes are down the street, I sort the necessary from the unnecessary, and make a beeline to the paper recycling bin. So only what I need comes in the house!

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Karin Vibe-Rheymer-Stewart, Ph.D. wrote Mar 8, 2010
    • Kyah,

      If you have all the papers to be shredded together, why not contact a shredding company? They often come to pick up the stuff and do it for you. I don’t know where you live, so I can’t give you specific recommendations, but google “shredding company” for your area, and chances are there will be one that can help you.  

      Mailbox: Love that! estatic

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Linni wrote Mar 8, 2010
    • sadly, this is in EVERY area of my life at the moment! lol

            Report  Reply