Second in a series on FileMAP®: Archive Solutions
Why We Need to Archive
Everyone who works in an office setting knows just how quickly piles of paperwork can form on a desk, credenza, and worktable. Or on a nearby window ledge, if you’re lucky to have one. Or, ironically, on top of a nearby file cabinet.
Same goes with our electronic desktop. The steady stream of emails accumulating in our in-boxes can grow to hundreds, if not thousands. And some of the information is so old and so deep that it is being pressed into coal!
Technology is working against us. A removable flash-drive the size of a small fingernail can hold up to an industry estimate of 10,000-20,000 documents and images. Hard drives and cloud drives are so large that digital storage is the virtual equivalent of a bottomless pit. And to make matters worse, our computers welcome anything and everything we dump into them. Unlike our moms when we were kids, our computers don’t care how much or where we toss and pile our stuff.
Here’s the illusion: because we know the information is somewhere close by — just out of view in real or virtual stacks — we respond to a coworker or boss’s request with, “Just give me a minute, I can find it.”
A minute. That’s the illusion. That minute might stretch into 3 or 5 — or 60. As one of my clients proudly told me, “If I just can’t find a document, I simply recreate it!”
“Main” versus “Archive”
The foundation of FileMAP® is built around the separation of Main, Archive and Personal files. The terms Main and Archive represent differing categories of work processes. An understanding of these terms is foundational to a successful organizing strategy and all archive solutions.
According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, 80% of what we keep we never use again. My own experience in working with thousands of clients yields this statistic: about 10% of what is within arms’ reach of
your office chair is accessed on a daily basis.
Why? Because our archive files are mixed in with our main files, the current daily/weekly work for the tasks at hand. Archive files are only accessed when someone or some situation requires that file.
Main, or current files, are repeatedly touched — physically or digitally — until they are completed. Then, with the click of a mouse or closing of a folder, a main file can become an archive file. There’s no announcement, no fanfare, simply nothing. It just happens. And more than not, that file becomes the next layer in a stack, mound or pyramid somewhere close by.
Practical Steps for Paper
1. Sort and separate main/current working files and paperwork from all other files. Remember, archive files are files that you will never look at again unless someone or some situation requires them.
2. Eliminate all files that are not main or archive files. These files are clutter and need to quickly find their way to a shredder or trash bin. Yes, I said trash bin – the kind you can roll into your office and then back out of. I’ve watched many clients joyfully toss hundreds of pounds of clutter from their offices, cabinets, book shelves, storage closets and file rooms. You can, too!
3. Keep your current paperwork and files within arm’s reach. Paperwork goes into stackables. Files into hanging folders. In a future post, I’ll feature additional nifty organizing containers that can help you keep files and paperwork from piling into mounds and pyramids.
4. Put your archive files well out of arm’s reach in vertical or lateral file drawers.
5. Use the file and folder naming strategies detailed in the FileMAP® series’ next post.
Do you have stacks or piles of paperwork and folders within arms’ reach of your office chair? Do you have an effective stackable strategy for your paperwork? Have you eliminated all files that are not Main or Archive?
If you need help decluttering your work area and setting up a Main and Archive strategy, I’m always here to help. Contact me by email or call 719-495-7626 and I’ll be glad to speak with you.
Related Series Articles
- Post #1 – Introduction: FileMAP®: the secret to streamlined information organization
- Post #3 – Filenaming strategies: If I file it, can I find it?
- Post #4 – Filenaming strategies: The elegance and efficiency of a shared filenaming strategy
- Post #5 – Filenaming strategies: Elusive Email Management