I lost 10 pounds in less than one week, and I feel great! No, I didn’t try the latest diet or exercise program. I simply cleared out my file cabinet.

Everyone collects information. Some file it. Some pile it. Most are drowning in it. Going paperless hasn’t helped much. It just moved the piles onto desktops and into the Cloud. Digital clutter is now a problem.

Collecting information comes at a cost in terms of time and money. Money spent on folders, file cabinets, more memory. Time spent trying to find that one file or document buried in a stack or on a screen.

Recently I confronted my own information-collecting demons when I unsuccessfully tried to fit a new file into my file cabinet. The same question I asked a client the week before popped into my mind: How often do you go back and look at what you’ve filed?

How often do you look at what you have filed? Whether it’s bookmarked, printed, or pulled out of a magazine, how often (if ever) do you look at it?

When I thought about it, I didn’t look at much of what was stored in my file cabinet.
Armed with this realization, I cleared out my own files (both personal and business) and came up with some questions to help clear out yours:

• How old is the information? I had articles from the 1990’s and even a few from the late 80’s! Newer isn’t always better, but my information was dated. Out it went.

• Is there more than one of the same? When I looked at whole files, I noticed that I often had several variations of the same article. I kept the best ones. I won’t collect any more of the same unless I get rid of what I already have.

• What do you need now? When I started my business seven years ago, I didn’t know what would be relevant, so I saved everything. Most of it never got used. Focus on what you need to know today, and discard or recycle the rest.

• Can the information be found somewhere else? In most cases, yes. New articles are written all the time. The one you have will appear again in some form. I promise.

• Have you looked at the information in the past year (or even in the past five years)? If it isn’t used, you may not even remember it’s there. You won’t miss it if it’s gone.

Ten pounds of paper later, my files have room to move! To maintain my new “figure,” I think twice before I save, clip, or bookmark. Information will be there when I need it if I need it.

Lose a few pounds (or gigabytes) of your own. Take a look at your files. Toss or recycle old or redundant files and ones that don’t relate to current interests. Think before saving. Clear them out regularly. Take control of your files. You’ll be glad you did.

© Renee Ursem, 2012

Author's Bio: 

Renee Ursem, Professional Organizer and owner of Get It Together, LLC in Las Vegas, helps people learn how to organize and maintain their spaces using simple, practical strategies.
Renee can be reached at www.get-it-together-llc.com. Find her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/GetItTogetherLLC) and Linkedin.