The other day while working with a client I was inspired to use a technique taught by Judith Kohlberg, in her book “Conquering Chronic Disorganization.” Judith Kolberg is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on organization/ disorganization.
Judith teaches a simple but profound technique for sorting your clutter called Friends Acquaintances and Strangers. She recommends looking at your items of clutter and sorting them into categories according to how “close” you are:
Friends are items that you use and love on a regular basis that are kept close at hand where you would frequently use them.
Acquaintances are items that you may use on occasion or that you don’t particularly love, but they serve some important function for you. They are placed where you can easily access them when needed but not in the way.
Strangers are those items that you don’t particularly love or use often. They are either tossed/donated or placed out of sight but accessible.
So my “AHA” moment came while discussing paper management strategies with a client. I have never before applied Judith’s method to paper, but it makes perfect sense.
Clients often ask or get stuck managing their paper when it comes to making the important decisions of what to keep and what they can safely get rid of.
Using Judith Kohlberg’s method you can safely make decisions on what to do with your papers:
Friends are Active project files that you are currently using or working on. Those should be kept close at hand such as in a desk draw (neatly filed and labeled) or if you need things in plain sight-in vertical files on your desk (also neatly filed and labeled).
Acquaintances are those documents that you have to keep for Reference. These items are not currently tied to an active project but are possibly needed in the near future (6 months to a year). This category could include recently paid bills that will be used to prepare your taxes, or a recently completed project.
Strangers are those papers that you don’t want or need-so they can be tossed, shredded or recycled. This category could also be documents that you need to keep for Archive or tax/legal reasons but rarely if ever need to access (think deeds, business certificates or files, taxes, at home birth records or marriage certificates.) Archive documents should also be filed neatly away.
Still nervous about what do do? The next blog applies a decision making method by another industry leader Barbara Hemphill to help you make decisions with confidence about whether your files are Friends, Acquaintances or Strangers!
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