2. Does it help me do my job better to have this on hand? Does it help me accomplish my individual job mission? If YES, keep it.
3. Do I use this? On average, people will only ever use 20 percent of what is in their office or home office areas. (Yikes!) If YES, keep it.
These seven items are reasons to discard or delegate information:
1. Is this information updated periodically? Decide how much history I need to keep. (Example: three months' worth of reports) and throw out anything older. When the next report comes in, toss out the oldest report; and you'll have a "naturally maintained" file.
2. Did I originate this -- and do I still use it? Just because I originated something doesn't necessarily mean I have to keep a copy of it. Only keep it for legal, mission or use reasons. (See above.)
3. Is someone else the originator of this information? Almost everything that comes into my in-box (paper and electronic) originated somewhere else. If I don't need it for legal, mission or use reasons, let the originator know I am relying on them to provide me with the most up-to-date information when I need it. Don't rely on potentially out-of-date or obsolete information to make decisions.
4. Can I obtain this information from someone or somewhere else? Example: most newspapers, magazines, journals and newsletters can be retrieved online, from the library or the original source.
5. Is this personally important to me, but not job-related? For personal items at work, establish one drawer or file(s) to store personal items and keep them separate from work items.
6. Do I need this for "political" reasons? Example: My boss or a co-worker gave it to me. If I don't need it, I could take it home and recycle it, explain that I passed it on to someone who could use it more than I could or store it far away from my primary work space.
7. What is the worst possible thing that could happen if I threw this away? If I don't lose my job or break a law, the worst might be some lost time.
After going through these questions, am I still not sure what to do? If I am uncomfortable throwing it away, keep it for now. The next time I review my resources (in six months or a year), I may feel more comfortable letting it go since I recently reviewed everything.
While these may seem like no-brainers, I think it's helpful to have a checklist. Personally, I found Nos. 4 and 7 to be the most empowering.
Now I'm off to commit some "purgery."
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman and CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications firm in Charleston. Reader inquiries may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or e-mailed to livinglifefu...@arnoldagency.com.