Reader C submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
My husband and I have a problem — while we’ve managed to declutter our little apartment to a state that makes us both happy, we both *hate* filing papers. It’s the one task that never seems to get done because we both avoid it, hoping the other person will break down and do it. Once papers make it into the filing cabinet they’re fairly well organized, but there always seems to be a heaping pile of envelopes and documents sitting on top of it. Do you have any advice for how to overcome this reluctance to deal with our filing?
I dislike filing, too. I wonder if there is someone out there who enjoys it. Anyone?
Because filing is such a dreaded task for many people, I recommend making the chore as much of a routine as possible so you don’t ever think about it. This either means doing it every day as a regular part of your mail processing routine (open mail, process it, file important documents, be done with it) or doing it once a week at a scheduled time (Saturday mornings after your cup of coffee). And, when I suggest scheduling it, I literally mean putting it on your calendar at a specific time.
If you go with the once a week system, get a decorative box with a lid that is only a few inches deep to set on top of your filing cabinet. The box can be the depository for the papers that need to be filed until your regularly scheduled filing time. Also, if you use a shallow box as recommended, your filing can’t ever get out of control because not much paper can fit inside of it.
Be sure to check out our Paper Clutter Begone, part 4 to make sure you’re not filing papers you don’t need to keep. I didn’t get the impression you were from your question, but a nice review of what to keep isn’t a bad idea for any of us.
When at work, I’ve found it’s convenient to file whenever I’m on a conference call that doesn’t require my active participation. Also, if I’m trying to solve a problem, I’ll file to give my brain some down time. Researchers have found that alternating between mindless work (like filing) and mindful work increases your overall productivity. If you’re trying to solve a problem at home, maybe sneak in a few minutes of filing even if it isn’t your regularly scheduled filing time.
Thank you, C, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column.
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