You may know the feeling, you go to open a drawer and papers are protruding every which way, you have to force some down to even open the drawer at all and your impatience mounts at the idea of dealing with it for just two seconds, not to mention an entire afternoon of actually dealing with it by cleaning shop. For those of you who still utilize filing cabinets–the non-digital kind–let’s talk about the ways in which we can declutter the archives and the crud that often accumulates in file folders.
The best way to start the de-crudding process for a filing cabinet would be to either create or reaffirm what your filing system is. You need a method by which you consciously store your papers and documents and this method can be as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be, as long as it makes sense to you and helps you find what you need in a timely and convenient manner. Some options for organization are alphabetical, numerical, due date, project, chapter, book, character, etc. etc.
Next up, you should write down a list of the working files you’ve decided to keep in your cabinet. Name the files in such a way that they are immediately recognizable to you. Use book or chapter titles, character names, etc. if it’s related to your writing. If you happen to also keep your water and electric bills in that cabinet, definitely label them and keep them in a separate area from your writing files. Miscellaneous folders are no help to anyone. They are clutter traps and try your best to avoid them!
Feel free to spice things up and make the decluttering process more exciting for yourself. Use visually appealing folders, perhaps toss that filing cabinet that you can barely open without the drawer almost flying out onto the floor. Customize this system to your organizational and aesthetic preferences!
Next up: pull your files out one at a time and lay them on a flat surface–this can be the floor or your desk or whatever you’d like. This way, if you have items in the wrong folders, they clearly stick out and you can place them aside in a pile and correctly file them as you go. When you go to replace the files in the cabinet, be sure to refer to your filing system list you began by making.
Once all the already filed items are back in a row, ask yourself if you have a stack of papers that still needs to be filed. Having a tray or box for a stack like this is always a good idea, especially marked with some imperative like “to be filed.”
The fun part of cleaning out the ‘ole filing cabinet? You can have a nice bonfire or shredding party with all of your disposed paperwork. Pour yourself a glass of wine, beer, coffee, tea–whatever your drink of choice may be–and celebrate a clean (and organized) slate!
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