7. The general rule of thumb for papers is discard everything.

Most people assume that it is the office rather than the home where paper tends to accumulate. It is actually in the home where paper clogs up closets and counter space. Every home the author’s consulted has dispensed of at least two large trash bags full of paper. The most impressive dump was fifteen bags worth of paper. Credit card statements, seminar notes that you’ll never refer back to, user manuals, used checkbooks, and pay slips: get rid of them all.

Some organizational gurus develop complex filing systems. This is unnecessary. The office, not the home, is the place for filing. Barring a handful of people with well-developed (and well-kept) filing systems, it isn’t helpful. As a general rule, throw papers away. They are annoying and fail to inspire joy. This obviously doesn’t include love letters and encouraging notes from friends as these items are in a different category altogether—the final section of sentimental items.

Those pieces of paper that you absolutely can’t get rid of will be either papers currently in use, those required for a discrete period of time, and those that must be kept forever. Even though you’ve subdivided, keep all the papers that you have to keep in a central location. Divide them into “save” and “deal with” piles.

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