3 Steps to Perfectly Organized Files

When you need to organize your files, each paper you touch can become a complicated decision. The solution: don’t triage!
Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #534

Choose categories of what to keep

Decide what categories of things should be kept. For example, bank statements. Tell Shmoopie to pull out all the bank statements into a big pile next to the boxes. This will go much, much faster. Instead of switching mental gears for every piece of paper, Shmoopie just programs their reticular activating system to recognize bank statements. Then, pull ‘em out.

Next, think of titles and deeds and stock certificates. Pull all those into a pile. Don’t worry about whether anything will be needed in the future. Just sort.

By using filtering instead of triage, you can zip through things far faster, more easily, and with less effort than ever before.

The exact set of categories that will work for Shmoopie depends on what’s in the boxes. One person may have “unpaid parking tickets” as an entire category (don’t ask how I know this). Someone else may have “half-knitted pairs of exciting underwear” as an entire category (also don’t ask how I know this). 

Have whatever other big, obvious categories make sense for your particular shmoopie. And then do a scan for “things I don’t know what to do with” so all those get their own pile, too. That way, instead of being paralyzed by individual items, Deer Shmoopie can be paralyzed by just one pile.

Now dispose of the piles

Now you have piles of stuff that has been in boxes. Your shmoopie didn’t miss the piles when they were piles-in-boxes. Shmoopie won’t miss the piles that you throw away forever (bwah hah hah hah hah!!)

Seriously. Throw away all the piles except the ones that have unbearable sentimental value, the ones that make your heart sing with joy, and the ones you pre-decided you might need again someday.

Then when Shmoopie isn’t looking, consider throwing away the “things I don’t know what to do with” pile. Shmoopie didn’t miss that stuff when it was in boxes, so just send it to the big box in the sky. 

It can be maddening when your home is full of someone else’s papers. Agonized in Arlington, I feel your pain (or it could just be a paper cut). Don’t let Shmoopie get caught by trying to triage every paper! Instead, scan. Choose in advance what needs to be kept. Scan the piles to pull out just those things. Then, throw everything else away. By using filtering instead of triage, you can zip through things far faster, more easily, and with less effort than ever before.

I’m Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. If you’re an entrepreneur, self-employed or otherwise need to control your own time, Get-it-Done groups help you start finishing what’s important, and develop the habits you need to achieve your goals. Learn more at http://SteverRobbins.com.

Work Less, Do More, and Have a Great Life!



About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.