Keep Paper from Becoming Clutter by Meggin McIntosh, PhD
The clutter in your classroom (office, home, garage) did not arrive on the scene overnight and it won’t disappear overnight (darn it!) You may want to print out these questions and post them wherever you have clutter lurking and are ready to begin to get that clutter moving OUT!
- When was the last time I actually used this item?
- Can I see myself specifically using or needing this item or information in the future?
- Did I request this information or this item?
- Is this information current or is it so out-of-date that it’s a liability?
- Would it be difficult or expensive to replace or reacquire this information or this piece of paper?
- Is this information available elsewhere? (Hint: The answer is almost always “yes” in this day and age.)
- Are there any tax, accountability, or other legal reasons for keeping this item or paper?
- Does this paper have positive, negative, or neutral emotions attached to it?
- What is the worst thing that could happen if I no longer had this piece of paper (notebook, folder, or other paper item)?
- Do I have the space to store this paper?
Ask yourself these questions as you go through your files (or your piles). Depending on the answers, you are likely to be able to get rid of 50 – 80% or more of what you’ve been keeping.
Note: Although these questions were primarily geared toward paper, essentially all of them also work with other types of clutter. So use them as needed!
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