It’s that time of year again! January 31st was the deadline for the delivery of various tax forms – 1098 forms for mortgage interest, 1099 forms for various types of income, W2 forms from employers, and so on. As all of these forms arrive, now is the perfect time to implement one of my favorite file management strategies: a purge party.
Whether you are digital or paper or a hybrid, now is the perfect time to set aside some time to get rid of paper documents and digital files you no longer need to keep. If you store documents up in the cloud, chances are you have close to infinite storage space, so a purge party for your digital files doesn’t seem as high a priority, which is totally fine. But your physical space is limited, so purging unneeded paper documents is something you should do sooner rather than later.
If you’re up for a file management purge party, here’s what you need to do.
Decide how long you’ll spend partying.
Do you want to spend no more than a couple of hours to catch up on the purging that didn’t happen over the last year? Do you want to spend six hours (or more) going through your file cabinet to see how many years’ worth of papers you can chunk?
Determine how to divide up party time.
Do you want to marathon it and go through all of your papers in one session? Or would you prefer to break up the fun into smaller chunks of time, like 15- or 30-minute blocks?
Make party appointments on your calendar.
If the thought of going through your paper or digital documents doesn’t sound appealing to you, then you probably won’t go out of your way to make it happen. If you schedule appointments with yourself on your calendar for how long you want to spend on this project, that will increase the probability that you complete it.
If you want a few ideas about digital file management options, you can browse here.
Check out my recommendations here if you need file naming conventions.
For tips on what to keep and what to get rid of, check out my file management strategies for document retention here.
I’m in the middle of a huge purge party right now, chunking documents related to real estate transactions that happened twenty years ago. It’s past the statute of limitations for most issues that might arise, so the majority of two banker’s boxes of docs can go into the shred pile.
As much as I would love to just dump all the contents of the boxes into the shred bin, I do need to take at least a few moments to glance at each sheet to make sure it’s not something that I do need to retain for a little longer. Since there are a lot of legal documents involved, I blocked off several 90-minute sessions to work on this.
At first, I wasn’t thrilled about doing it, but it’s actually been fun strolling down memory lane, reflecting on how much I learned on that particular journey as well as how much my husband and I have accomplished. These moments of reflection have made this particular file management strategy – a purge party – quite enjoyable.
Happy Purge Party to you!
For file management strategies and a step-by-step guide to setting up a digital or paper document management system, check out The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer.