The Paper Purging Plan

Unfortunately, this Paper Purge isn’t something I can delegate to others – at least not completely. The files that came with the business are something I need to go through myself, page by page, to determine what’s worth keeping and what’s not. I can delegate some things – accounting records, for instance – as long as I’ve set parameters for what to keep and what to toss. But that still leaves file cabinets full of paper for me to wade through.

So what will I be looking for? Here’s the short list:

  • Corporate, legal or tax information that we should keep permanently
  • Samples of forms or processes we might want to adapt and use
  • Excellent examples of work we’ve completed – funded proposals, evaluations, strategic plans, training outlines
  • Organizations we’ve completed work for who aren’t listed on our Clients list
  • Important history with organizations I should know about in case we work with them in the future
  • Anything that could come back to bite us in the butt someday

The plan started several months ago when we bought a two-drawer locking fireproof file cabinet. I began The Paper Purge by using the new fireproof storage to set up our “forever files” – the things we need to keep forever and must protect from damage or destruction. A fireproof file cabinet is expensive – we paid about $600 for a two-drawer file – but we had long outgrown a regular under-desk safe and wanted to be able to access these files easily.

Once the Forever File was set up, the next target was to clean out the files at my own desk. These are the critical files I use daily or weekly to run the company, and they included a growing section of my own personal information files. I cleaned out the personal files and stored them nearby, which gave me room to file more company information at hand where I can access it easily. As I mentioned in an earlier post, cleaning out just these two drawers took me three days. Very discouraging – I could see this Paper Purge stretching out years in my mind…

The goal is to use this slow season to bring our filing system into a semblance of order. I want to 1) know what’s in there and 2) be able to access it easily in the future.



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