Are you looking for an easy way to get your files cleaned out?
One of my organizing rules is “Make your organizing memorable and fun.”
I have lost 30 lb. of paper files in a week by doing just that. All you need to do is set a date (say by the next holiday), get a scale (a postage scale works), and chart your progress per day.
My “Paper Diet” started when the movers had a limit on what we could move. Each pound to move costs 60 cents a pound. I wasn’t going to get rid of my book collection, but figured I had some files, binders, and favorite magazines I could cull through. So I set my goal of a 30 lb. diet in three weeks.
Measuring Your Progress on “The Paper Diet”
1 inch of paper = 1 pound
1 file drawer = 15 or 24 inches per file drawer
“Power Surge” Weight Loss = recycling binders, catalogs, and magazines.
The Paper Diet Goals
Main Goal: Simplify and reorganize files and desktops to stay “clean and lean!”
- Declutter flat surfaces the have paperwork until clean (i.e. desk and floor).
- File current papers by making room in current file drawers.
- Tidy up paperwork after tax season.
- Clean out before summer relaxation sets in.
- Create an annual spring cleaning of file drawers.
Why Clear out Files and File Drawers?
It’s important to your productivity! The fewer files and piles you have, the fewer crises you will have and the more work you will get done. You’ll be working instead of searching.
Begin at the back of each file drawer and pull out ten inches of papers. Place these papers on your clear desktop, line up the recycle bin to your left, and start sorting. As you view each file or paper, ask yourself these two questions:
- Is this file or paper part of my present and future work?
- Do I need to keep this file or paper, or is it time to pitch it?
Here are more tips to speed up the process of file sorting:
- Stand and get into a toss rhythm
- Have a decisive person work with you
- Postpone eating dinner until you finish
- Limit the file sort time to one hour
- Plan a big reward for completing your files in the time allotted
Now stand back and survey your desk space. Is there anything more you can do to move paper out of your way? Label your binders, see what ones you can recycle paper from, and weigh the paper for the day. Chart your progress with 3 columns:
- Date: 5/6 Tuesday
- Paper Pounds recycled: 2.5 lbs. from Top Right File Drawer and 5 lbs. from old Binders
- Time spent: 40 minutes 12-12:40 lunch hour.
Usually 30 minutes is a good average per day, though you will see faster progress with two focused hours in the evening or on the weekend. You’ll lose more weight the more often you work your “Paper Diet.”
So far here’s My Tally of Recycled Paper, Books, Magazines:
2022 – New Goal 70 lb!
2021 – 9 lb. Should have been more intentional :(
2020 – 12 lb. Most files are in my computer.
2019 – 50 lb. Magazines
2018 – 34 lb. Paper
2017 – 30 lb. Files
2016 – 80 lb. Books! On average they are about a pound a piece.
2015 = 55 lb. Files & Magazines & Books: Have to keep recycling to stay “Clean & Lean.”
2014 = 105 lb. Magazines & Books: Clipped 1-2 articles each magazine & donated books. Painful but glad to see them in circulation.
2013 = 35 lb. Projects & Daily Paperwork
2012 = 55 lb. Projects & Daily Paperwork
2011 = 40 lb. Projects & Daily Paperwork
2010 = 40 lb. File Drawers: First pass through and updated. I’m feeling great.
2009 = 80 lb. 3-Ring Binders: were the big weight loss. Recycled and scanned some.
I’ve “lost” 646 Pounds!!!
Doesn’t that sound impressive? Well, it’s over 13 years and painful to let go of paper, files, magazines, and books. But so worth it to live “Lean and Clean” and to pass on current magazines and valuable books to let someone else use.
I’ll guide you through your own “30 Lb. Paper Diet” in class and 1-1 Coaching. It’s so rewarding and freeing to know what you’ve got and let go of what you gleaned from it.