June 21, 2011

Information Hoarding

A recent question on an organizers’ e-chat about people who hoard information made me think about my clients who have trouble letting to of printed material.  Magazines, newspapers, brochures, product specifications, newsletters, announcements, bills and drafts of reports all had some value at one time but are no longer useful. 

Most of these clients are extremely intelligent and very well read, yet they believe that discarding the accumulated paper is like losing the information.  Even though I explain that the paperwork they are holding onto is outdated or duplicated, they are unable to release it. 

Holly Uverity, Certified Professional Organizer® and founder of Office Organizers, makes the point that “…you can’t throw the information away – all you can do is throw away the paper the information is printed on. I make the distinction between the information and the method of delivery – the paper has no value, it’s what is ON the paper that has the value.  So, how can one throw information away? It’s always available and it’s always changing and being updated with NEW information.”

You can safely discard stacks of paper that you probably don’t look at, but are afraid to toss.  The information is still available, but it won’t be taking up room in your space any longer. Having printed materials in your possession does not make you solely responsible for them. 

I have clients who guarantee that the things they are storing cannot be found elsewhere.  If it has been printed, you probably can find it on the Internet, at a research library or by contacting the organization that produced it.  You might have a document that you believe has historical or literary significance.  In that case, find out if someone can use it. 

If you created and printed a document, how many copies do you need to keep?  You can discard early versions that you’ve written once you have completed the assignment.  Unless you write or design for a living, you don’t need to maintain printed samples of your work. 
Can you discard written material that you once thought was important? Click on Post a Comment, below, and tell us.

Organized by MarcieTM: Saving you time and money by helping you let go of what you don't need and find room for what you value
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