At least once a year I do a clean-up of my file cabinets, and I just finished my latest round. Every time I do this, I’m amazed at the stuff I have kept that I really don’t need.
For your amusement (and inspiration), the following is what I got rid of this time:
I tossed a lot of papers in this category, including:
- Train schedules from 10 years ago
- Clippings about recommended hotels and restaurants — from the 1990s
- Brochures I picked up while visiting an area that I’ll probably never return to — and the brochures weren’t even that enticing
Inspirational and sentimental stuff
I worked for Hewlett-Packard Company for many years; the founders, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, are still two of the people I admire most. I had a lot of information about them, and I narrowed it down to the few things that were especially meaningful to me. I scanned many of those, and got rid of the paper.
Advice from Miss Manners
I really enjoy the Miss Manners columns, and I’d clipped a number of them. The ones I still found useful — maybe a quarter of the one I had saved — got scanned, and all the clippings were recycled.
I’m talking here about general information, not my personal health information. Even though I’d discarded much of this before because medical information changes so quickly and so much is available online, I still found a few papers I had kept for no good reason. I really don’t need the newsletter from a local hospital, from 2004, talking about mini-incision hip replacement!
Why in the world did I keep printouts of song lyrics? I’m not even talking about the nice inserts from old LPs, just computer printouts.
I had kept tips on good writing, which included things I’ve long ago absorbed. So, out went the April 1995 article on using quotes in articles.
Old information about the San Francisco Bay Area
There is a lot being written lately about high-tech companies and their employees ruining San Francisco (or not, depending on your perspective) and about these employees driving up housing prices in the area. These were good for a laugh, before they hit the recycling bin:
- Three articles about dot-com companies and their employees ruining San Francisco — from 1999
- An article showing examples of Silicon Valley houses available at the then-current median price, also from 1999
Here are some of the other papers I found, and discarded:
- A clipping from 2003 about how house sizes increased from 1900 to 2000
- Printouts of documents I have on my computer — things that I probably printed some time ago for easier reading, but that I certainly don’t need in paper form any more
- The manual for Norton AntiVirus 9.0, from 2004
- A clothing catalog from Spring 2010, with something I was considering purchasing but never did
In summary, I’m getting rid of everything in my filing cabinet that is out of date, no longer interesting or useful, or readily replaced with online information.
What have you cleared out of your file cabinet lately? Please share your discoveries in the comments.