My evening project this week has been doing some (serious) decluttering in the lower level of my home. My kids are teenagers now and we decided it’s time to switch up how we use the lower level. This means some old stuff has got to go to make room for the new. (Ping pong table anyone?)

I’m pretty much reevaluating every item (that belongs to me) in my office, storage closet and the family room. Even my file cabinet is getting a pretty thorough once-over, something it hasn’t gotten in a while. I discovered I was holding onto a lot of pretty old paperwork from back when I started simplify 101. For example, I found articles that I would never in a million years go searching for in my file cabinet. Which led me to this big lightbulb moment:

If You're Not Retrieving, Stop Filing!
I realize on the surface this sounds like crazy talk. And it is crazy talk if we’re talking about financial records, legal records or other documents that you need to hold onto for tax or legal purposes. But, what about paperwork for projects that have long been completed? And how about outdated articles,decorating ideas, or fashion tips? If you find there’s a category of paper that you’re filing by choice, but never retrieve, it’s time to stop filing!

Use these questions to stop the filing (or piling) madness:

  • Do I need this paper for legal or financial reasons? (If yes, keep it!)
  • How likely is it that I will retrieve this paper or even remember that I have it at a later date?
  • Could I find this information elsewhere more quickly?
  • What is the possible consequence for not keeping this piece of paper?

File what you need and what you will retrieve, and think long and hard about why you’re keeping and filing anything else.

Do you find yourself filing things that you never retrieve? Please share in the comments below.

Happy organizing!


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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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