This article was originally published on my other (now non-updated) blog, SimpleProductivityBlog.com.
I’m probably going to be called a heretic for this article, but I don’t care. After all, heretic means “one who dissents from accepted belief”, and this is definitely against the accepted belief of a few of the major productivity systems out here. Here it is:
Not everyone can maintain a filing system.
Many people, otherwise competent and some even brilliant, cannot maintain a filing system. It has nothing to do with intelligence or organization or even self-discipline. I’m convinced it’s just the way they are wired.
So what is a filing challenged person to do?
(Get ready for the heresy)
File everything in a single box.
As long as you know where something is, and it is a reasonable amount of information, does it matter if it is in neatly labeled hanging folders? Or in a pile?
I don’t think it matters. So for all those out there who just can’t get the hang of filing, grab a small, empty box. About the size of a box that holds file folders, not one that holds a refrigerator. Throughout the year, toss in the things you need to hang on to for financial and tax reasons: paid bills, tax documents, bills.
At the end of the year, go through it and shred what you can. Then stick it on a shelf with an appropriate label and start a new one.
So my question for those of you who are horrified at this idea is this: the point of filing is to be able to find things again. Is it any different in a single box then in a file drawer?