Tossing and Turning

"The real question is, why do you want it? What are you going to do with it? That's where you've got to start; otherwise you're going to waste a lot of money."

These are the words of Francis Carincross in her book 'The Company of the Future'. She tries to answer the question many of us have about saving paper.

Regardless of the fact that we have been talking about the 'paperless society' since the early 1970's, the truth of the matter is that there is more paper than ever before. In fact, a Xerox survey tells us we will have 50% more paper in 2005 than we had in 1995. And we don't know where it will go from there.

Letting go of paper
Letting go of paper is harder than it seems. Many companies have tried to go 'paperless' citing increased productivity and lower costs as the gain. However, employees are still ordering filing cabinets. Why? Because most of us have an emotional attachment to the paper. Even work-related papers.

I am talking about fond memories of papers relating to a project or person with whom you were associated. Or those marketing pieces you just can't throw away.

Then there is the concern that if the paper gets tossed, you will subsequently need it. Consider that most of us don't know what is inside our file cabinets to begin with. Is it really bringing you value? Would you lose your job if you didn't have many of those documents?

More than just a feeling
We fear that if it gets tossed we will somehow 'miss it' or 'suffer the consequences'. There are 18,000 pieces of paper in a full four-drawer file cabinet. We only use 20%. Re-read Frances Cairncross' words at the top of this page. If you can answer the questions honestly, you will probably start clearing out your filing cabinet, eliminate waste and clutter, save time and maintain only that which you actually use and need. Have you ever thought about a company-wide records retention policy and annual clean-out day?

It is one thing to organize and maintain a filing system, but the truth is that many of us put papers in files because we can't seem to make a decision about the document's true disposition. Outcome? Paper clutter. Time mismanagement. Money wasted. Frustration.

And don't forget those digital files. The keyword here is?delete.

Copyright 2001. Cynthia Kyriazis. All rights reserved.

Cynthia Kyriazis is an organizing and time management consultant, trainer, speaker, coach and author with over 20 years management experience in multi-unit corporations. Organize it, a division of Productivity Partners, Inc. is an organizational training firm she founded in 1995 and has been serving Fortune 500 clients ever since. Cynthia works with business and their employees to help improve performance and realize productivity gains.

Cynthia has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kansas City Star and the Legal Intelligencer. She currently serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), member of the Kansas City of the International Society for Performance Improvement ? (ISPI-KC) and consultant to the American Coaching Association.

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