How to eat a paper elephant…

view of elephant in water
Photo by Pixabay on

…one bite at a time.


“Oh, I would hate for you to see my office!”

“What would you do with paper from the 1950’s?”

The implication is I would be shocked or overwhelmed.

I would like to tell all the folks who say things like that, I don’t look at the clutter through their eyes.  My mind is on how I can improve the work environment to their liking.  I want to develop their trust in me to respect their stuff, yet allow me some flexibility while I learn their style of work.

My clients need to know, my goal is not to throw away their prized possessions.  I am sensitive to people who don’t pitch because they fear something valuable may be lost.  It’s probably already lost unless they are very well organized.  Rather I want to help them find their lost treasures and not lose things in the future.

I look at every space with the same idea, to create a more peaceful and better functioning workspace.  I start by taking out things so they can be evaluated as to usefulness. And I start with newer things.

Start with the most recent acquisitions.  Newer paper is often more important that old.  It will have more accurate, current information; unless we are talking about critical documents such as Wills, Birth Certificates, and Deeds.  The most current insurance policy is the one you need to keep.  That goes for bills, too, unless there is an issue such as a balance dispute.

So put away the paper on top.  Remove old papers from files as you go.  Do an inventory of what’s in the files. Identify what can go to the shredder or fire pit.  Plan for less in-coming mail in the future by having utility bills emailed to you and set to auto-pay online.

A good cleanup can often save you money.  I confess when I cleaned out my office closet recently I discovered duplication of paper and pens.  I was buying paper and pens I did not need because I had too much stuff in my own closet to actually see what was there.  If that can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

Resist the urge to buy more and bigger file cabinets.  Instead invest in a good scanner and a shredder.  Spend some money on someone like me who can do an annual office clean up.  Your stress level will go down with that pile of paper.

Soon it will look less like a giant elephant and more like a little origami. 🙂

teal and white paper
Photo by on

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