Sydney Avey

Dynamic Woman — Changing Times

Great Giveaway: Purge files to add space to your life

Feb 2, 2016 | Great Giveaway | 0 comments

To purge, or not to purge–that is the question:
Whether ’tis better to sort and reorder
The documents in folders in the drawer
Or to set upon the sea of paper
And by tossing, be rid of all.

Purge filesJanuary was my month to purge files. I purged three of six file drawers of their contents and gave away a two-drawer file cabinet.

Out went my work history–evaluations, recommendations, sample work, salary history–I do not see job applications in my future. For the record, I kept my last resume and a slim file of letters and certificates that tell a story.

Out went my academic transcripts. They got me where I wanted to go. I will likely never have to earn another grade, short of a score high enough to retain my driver’s license.

Out went the source material for seminars I have taught over the years, much of it no longer relevant. I don’t need notes to remind me of what I know. If I can’t bring something to mind, I can press a button on my iPhone and ask Siri.

Casting out stuff you have carted around for years triggers soul searching. There was a time when I based my self-worth on the grades I made and the jobs I landed. I’d like to say I no longer need a good evaluation to make me feel worthwhile, but the truth is, a spike in blog viewership or a glowing book review can make my day. I can let go of the paper trail but the need I have for validation remains.

Memory Lane

I don’t need records to recall the past. On the rare occasion that I walk on the campus of a school I attended, or drive past the sea of cars parked in front of Silicon Valley workplaces, vivid memories flood my heart. The crunch of Fall leaves underfoot when I walked to school; the click of my heels across the tiled corporate lobby floor; classmates and colleagues; heartaches and lucky breaks.

It’s not all behind me. I’m still learning and growing. I still maintain a work routine. Yes, I miss the paycheck, but I don’t miss having all my time prescribed by others. It’s likely I will fill more file folders in the future, but on my computer, not in drawers. More portable. Easier to delete.

Lessons Learned

In the past, I have reorganized files to make retrieval easier. That did nothing to redeem the space they occupied in the drawer, on the floor, and in my psyche. I used to be proud of my ability to lay my hands on anything I might need. Now I feel free of the need. The aha moment was when I decided to leave the drawers empty.

It was tempting to spread the contents of the remaining three, overstuffed drawers to fill the empty drawers. I could pull a file without getting a paper cut! But that’s not the point of the exercise. The point is the beauty of an empty drawer and the freedom from paper trail management that serves no purpose.

What would an empty drawer mean to you?



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