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Lighter Living Task #11 Digital Files and File Cabinets

Personal File Organization Tips

Lighter Living is more than a book. Lighter Living Tasks are weekly suggestions to make progress on decluttering, organizing and simplifying your life. By working on parts of your home each week, you will breaking big projects into small, manageable tasks.

Are your file cabinets stuffed with old, obsolete items? Are your digital files a mess? This week, let’s discuss paper and digital files.

Sorting my dad’s file cabinet after his death was very difficult for me. Most of his files were full of article clippings of topics he enjoyed. I did my best to give some folders to people who might enjoy them, but the vast majority I had to recycle or throw out.

We all have topics of interest and it is okay to collect books and other items to learn more about or enjoy those topics. I turn my favorite subjects into books and then get rid of all the supporting material I collected in research after the book is published. I do the same for blog posts I write. One can also donate the collections to organizations or individuals who share the same passion. But beware of gathering too much stuff and then leaving it to others to deal with after your death. It can be burdensome.

I believe in examining paper files at least once a year. Then ask yourself if the document or file is still needed or useful. If not, shred or recycle. Remove every item from your file cabinet and only put back what you really need or care about.

Digital files can be a mess because “out of sight, out of mind” can occur more easily when on your computer. Again, at least once a year and perhaps quarterly, organize your computer files. Create clear titles to easily find in the future. Then delete duplicates and dated items that no longer apply to today.

Consider placing estate and vital documents on the “cloud” such as Google documents. If your computer dies or is stolen, you have saved vital and precious items that can be recovered. You can also share those documents with trusted others that might need or want them if you are suddenly incapacitated.

Avoid letting your files get out of control. The longer you wait to sort them, the harder it is and you may just do nothing. That leaves a mess for loved ones when you die. It is worth it to schedule time to organize your files and then create a habit of doing it annually, bi-annually or quarterly.

Between tasks posted on this blog, be sure to read Lighter Living if you have not already.


    • Lisa J. Shultz

      It is hard Geneva. Baby steps, a little at a time is the way I sometimes do it. Gradually build momentum. Cheers, Lisa

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