In a past post I talked about whether or not your Files are Friends, Acquaintances or Strangers.It applied a method taught by Judith Kohlberg, organization expert to help you decide on what papers to keep and where they should be placed based upon your “relationship” to the files.

Friends are items that you use and love on a regular basis that are kept close at hand where you would frequently use them.

Acquaintances are items that you may use on occasion or that you don’t particularly love, but they serve some important function for you. They are placed where you can easily access them when needed but not in the way and well

Strangers are those items that you don’t particularly love or use often. They are either tossed/donated or placed out of sight but accessible.

Now I understand some of you might be a little nervous and say, Nicole, I have a lot of Friends and Acquaintances. So here’s another way to gain confidence that you’re making the right decisions about what papers to keep and which ones should be discarded.

If you’re still nervous about whether or not you can get rid of a document, ask the Art of Wastebasketry™ questions as taught by my mentor Barbara Hemphill, aka “The Paper Tiger Lady” and the founder of the Productive Environment Institute.

1 – Is there a next action associated with the document?
Yes – it’s an Action or project friend aka Friend
No – an Acquaintance or Stranger go to question #2

2 – Is there a specified use for the document?
Yes – I have to keep this because my lawyer said I need it or it is no longer active but will come up again Might be an Acquaintance/Reference. Go to question #3
No – discard as a Stranger

3 – Is it recent enough to still be useful?
Yes – Might be an Acquaintance Go to question #4
No – Discard as a Stranger

4 – Is it difficult to get or  find again?
Yes- might be an Acquaintance. Go to question #5
No- discard as a Stranger

5 – What is the WORST possible thing that can happen if I throw it away?
I have to look it up again-discard as a Stranger
I might realize I never really needed to keep it-discard as a Stranger
I will free up considerable energy and space in my files-discard as a Stranger
I won’t have to stare at paper clutter on my desk again-discard as a Stranger

It if absolutely has to be kept as an Acquaintance–file it away as a reference file but re-evaluate next time you purge.

So when it comes to your papers-keep your Friends close and create some distance between your Acquaintances and Strangers!

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Nicole Chamblin
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Nicole Chamblin

I’m Nicole Chamblin, a productivity “coachsultant”, the Chief Visionary and owner of Visions Productivity Solutions. Through onsite consulting, virtual coaching and live training sessions, I love teaching ways to more effectively manage the 3 Ts™- time, team, and tasks. If you’re a small business owner or a department head of an established business that has never taken the time to put in place back end administrative processes to improve productivity, efficiency, communication and collaboration– I can help.
Nicole Chamblin
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