We Aren’t Done Cutting Down Trees … Yet!

August 15, 2007


The not-so-extinct printer is bound to be around a while longer … so it’s a good idea to have a strategy for dealing with paper.

Every so often, I come across an article about the digital revolution. Invariably, the author expounds on the marvels of modern technology, and points to a day “just around the corner” in which we will all be paperless. Well, to quote the former president Teddy Roosevelt “Bull Feathers”.

Obviously, it must escape the attention of such authors that attached to every network, somewhere, is a really cool machine that transcribes all our digital words and imprints them onto individual pieces of paper … it’s called a printer.

Sarcasm aside, I’m all for achieving the “paperless zen” they’ve been promising for years, but we aren’t there yet friends. So in the mean time, let’s discus some useful strategies for dealing with paper.

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The most useful strategy is maintaining a set of purge guidelines. Pack rats listen extra attentively on this point! Purge guidelines are questions one should ask oneself before deciding to keep an item, or when cleaning out old files.

Author Barbara Hemphill offers tons of useful advice on handling paper in her book “Taming the Paper Tiger”. Here are three purge guideline examples from her book:

• What is the worst possible thing that could happen if I toss this file out?
• Can I get another copy elsewhere if I really need it?
• What are the chances that I will ever look at this file again?

If you really struggle, print these guidelines out (see, I told you we still do that) and tape it to every active file drawer as a reminder to ask the questions before filing an item away.

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