How To Get Rid of File Clutter {15 Minutes At A Time}

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Today's mission is to get rid of file clutter from your home filing system, because you know not everything you once filed in there is actually worth keeping, right?

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This mission is designed to be done while working on the Organize Your Home's Filing System Challenge here on the site, which is part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge.

The reason this is such an important mission is that part of having an organized filing system in your home is making sure you're only keeping things in it that you really and truly need. There's only so much space in your file box, or the file drawer or cabinet, and if you're trying to shove even more papers into a too crowded space it makes you not want to file at all.

Plus, getting rid of old and useless papers makes it easier for you to find the stuff you do really need to keep and access periodically with less frustration, and less time wasted.

How To Get Rid Of File Clutter During This Mission

How to declutter file clutter 15 minutes a time, to clear out your file drawer or cabinet of old papers and make room for the stuff you really do need to file in there now {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
Depending on how many files you've got, and how old those files are, this may not be a 15 minute mission for you. Instead, this may be a 15 minutes at a time mission.

With any mission that you need to work on in 15 minute increments make sure to give yourself a few minutes of those 15, at the end, to do any clean up needed, so you don't make a huger mess in the process. That can include putting things away, putting stuff in the recycling bin, or shredding papers.

To go through these files, you're going to approach it in the exact same way that you approach big stacks of paper you've got lying on flat surfaces. The advantage you have with your filing is that you've most likely already done an initial sort with it, and have it labeled, at least partially, with what it is.

Therefore, you're likely to find that going through these files actually takes less time to sort through a large stack of paper than the random piles you've got lying around.

To help you, here are a few resources on the site you can use:
  • 4 Questions To Ask Yourself When Decluttering Paper - This article will help you feel comfortable in making decisions of what to keep and what to get rid of, because it can be a bit nerve wracking sometimes, especially when decluttering file folders, because, after all, at one point you thought this was something you needed to keep.

  • How Long Should You Keep Papers {Including Printable Cheat Sheet} - this article explains how long to keep various documents, such as tax returns, bills, insurance paperwork, and more, which is exactly the type of stuff you will come across when decluttering file folders

  • 15 Types Of Documents You Should Shred - when you do decide to get rid of certain paperwork from your old files, some of it can go in the recycling bin, but other papers should be shredded for your privacy. Here's how to know what types of papers need to be shredded.

Make It A Habit To Purge Old Files Annually To Keep File Clutter At Bay From Now On

Once you've cleared out perhaps years of accumulated paperwork from old files, you know you never want to take on such a huge decluttering project again.

But here's the thing. File clutter is going to creep back up on you, inevitably. That's because I suggest, as part of your weekly paperwork session that one of the tasks you do is file more paperwork that comes into your home. Over time it builds up.

So what's the best way to deal with that paperwork from now on, so the task never gets too overwhelming? It is to do an annual purge of your file folders, looking through everything and getting rid of anything that has gotten too old to need to keep, or that is no longer useful or relevant to your life.

You can do this annual purge whenever on the calendar that you want, but I suggest doing it around the beginning of the year, when you're making new file folders for the year, such as your paid bills file. Another possibility is to do it when you're doing your tax returns. You'll look at a lot of the paperwork at tax time, and also be creating that year's personal tax organizer at that time, so it would also make sense to do it then.

This can be a very satisfying decluttering mission, because you'll most likely get rid of a lot of paper clutter and really consolidate the contents of your file drawers. To get you inspired I've collected some photos sent in by readers, below, who've already done the mission, so scroll down to check them out.

Photo courtesy of Librarian Avenger

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Results When You Declutter Old File Folders

How to declutter old files from your filing cabinet or file box so you can get rid of the paper clutter and instead fit in the new papers that you do need to keep {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

As promised, here are some photos from readers who've already done this mission, to show you what you can accomplish with 15 minutes of effort, at a time.

The photos above were sent in by a reader, Tamara. She said of the first photo, "Went through an older file cabinet. I have nothing left in it. I moved a few files to another location but now the cabinet is empty! Do I get rid of the cabinet? Something to think about."

You too may find yourself getting rid of lots of files during this mission, because one, you may have saved things you didn't need, ever, or you may have needed them at the time, but after several years they became less useful and could be tossed (or shredded, or recycled).

Then, Tamara explained about the bottom photo in the collage, "This is what is left!" In addition, she said, "I have removed all five of the file boxes that have been accumulating over the last several years. It was a lot of work but I had to attack it all at once so that I wouldn't get discouraged. I scanned a whole bunch of things and filed some that way."

Once you've gotten rid of the clutter you'll be left with a lot less stuff in those file drawers making it so much easier to find what you need more quickly!

Lots of bags of shredded paper accumulated by a reader, Taig, who decluttered her file drawers {featured on Home Storage Solutions 101}

This photo above is from another reader, Taig, who also worked on this mission. She said, "This is the shredded paper from 3 file drawers. In addition, about 10 pounds of un-shredded paper and files went to recycle this week. Only 5 more drawers to go!"

Great job Taig! When you're working through this mission you're likely to accumulate a lot of paper that needs to be disposed of in one fashion or another. Make sure as part of your 15 minutes at a time that you're disposing of the paper, and not just letting it sit there. After all, it's still clutter in your home until you completely remove it from your home!

You can throw it right into the recycle bin, shred it as you go, if you've got a home shredder, or if you've got a lot it may be worth it to you to use a commercial shredding service that shreds the paper right in front of you, just so you don't have to spend more time shredding it slowly, yourself.

Are You Ready To Declutter Your Home?

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I hope seeing these pictures has inspired you to get rid of your old file clutter in your home.

When you begin to declutter the feeling you get is contagious, so if you're loving the results you're getting I would encourage you to keep going.

I've got a whole series of 15 minute decluttering missions (eventually 365 of them!) that you can do.

Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

Getting Rid Of Paper Clutter Hall Of Fame

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