One of the things I like to do around New Year’s is to go through my filing cabinets. I find that when I review my personal and professional files it helps me do more than de-clutter my papers, it also frees my mind.

Looking over my files is like “The Year in Review” but I swear the process of clearing the old is a great way to develop what you might like to do for your future. As I physically pull out each file and my fingers go through the papers, I’m visually and mentally reminded of the past and I DECIDE if these papers are still useful and important. If they are not, it’s off to the recycling bin or shredder and if they are they remain in a properly labeled hanging file folder.

This task is a trip down memory lane and an opportunity to reflect on time passing; an important part of life that many people are not partaking in these days. It gives our minds a chance to think, bring things to closure and move on, often creating new thoughts about the future in terms of things we want to get done or wish to do.

In the below chart, I have given some examples of (both personal and professional) how reviewing our files can “tickle” us into getting organized for the future:

PERSONAL

  • Medical Files – As I review my family’s medical files I might be reminded that I need to set up an appointment at the orthodontist for my son or call our primary care physicians since we are changing insurance in January.
  • Report Card Files – As I review my children’s report card file I am reminded of their strengths and weaknesses. So if my son is supposed to read more, I will set some dates up to go to the library and also to utilize his Barnes & Noble gift cards. Additionally, if my daughter is supposed to write more, I will ask her to write out invitations to her birthday party, the menu for the party and thoughtful notes of appreciation afterward since her birthday is this month.
  • Communion File – As I review the Communion file, I will only save the information that I think I will need for the future relative to my children’s Confirmation.

PROFESSIONAL

  • Client Files – As I review my client files I will think of people I want to reach out and touch again so I will jot a note in my planner to follow up with them.
  • Presentation Files – As I review all the courses I spoke about this year, I may think of classes I’d like to run again or new places and/or topics I’d like to teach. I will then write these thoughts down in my planner and assign a time to develop them.
  • Expense File – As I look over my QuickBooks reports for the year, I am reminded to call my accountant to create some new chart of accounts that I hadn’t needed before this year. Again, I decide when I am going to do this assignment and write it in my planner.

Maybe this is why people procrastinate on filing? Is it because we realize that this isn’t simply a piece of paper that needs to be filed but an action that needs to be taken? Most people don’t have the time at the moment to do it and become overwhelmed with the time consumption of getting things done. In reality, if you break the tasks down into manageable steps and “schedule the unscheduled”, things do get done.

This process just goes to show you that organization is a constant work in progress. Once we get our files and life “in order”, Father Time is going to take us places we don’t know about yet and we will have to constantly readjust our organizing strategies to stay on top of it all.