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Thursday, March 17, 2016

File Cabinets are the Work of the Devil

Endless X Files
I've been cleaning out old files and it is a colossal pain. I blame it on all the bad advice I got from all the people who gave advice on the matter, which was usually 'save it, you might need it some day', so I saved it. Now I'm looking at this stuff and I realize most of it is crap and didn't need to be saved in the first place, and while some of it contained good information, which might have been useful at the time, that time is gone and that information is now worthless. Why did I save all this crap? Because I didn't want to spend the time or energy trying to decide whether it was important or not. And I had file cabinets. Empty cabinets with lots of room. Just put the papers in there. So I did and there they sat and now I am stuck with three big steelcase drawers and a dozen or so boxes, all full of crap.
     Once upon a time when I had an actual job, I dealt with papers that contained useful information, admittedly arcane, technical mumbo jumbo, but useful to certain people trying to accomplish certain things with certain equipment in certain situations. (Is that certain enough?) And when I found a piece of paper that proved to be useful, I saved it. Now and again a certain topic would show up several times and when I noticed this I would put together a notebook with all the relevant pieces of paper and I would put the notebook on a handy bookshelf.
    After a while (a couple more years maybe?) I noticed that I no longer went to the file drawers to look for things. The first place I went were my notebooks. Eventually I quit using the files in the drawers completely. So I guess my new rule of thumb is only hold onto those things that you recognize as useful and let all the other crap fall into the recycling bin. And if someone gives you something and tells you to hold onto to it, quiz them until they give you a good reason to do so. Or you get bored or realize their so called 'explanation' is just bullshit and they really have no idea why that particular piece of paper might be valuable to you.
    Of course the decision on what to save and what to toss can have more repercussions than just how fast your files fill up. Occasionally a piece of paper will come your way that is actually valuable. Dollar bills, checks and automobile titles come to mind. You might want to keep some things that tug at your heartstrings, but make sure there is a real tug there, otherwise you are liable to end up with a whole pile of crap. In this as in life, good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.

1 comment:

AndrewP said...

Amen brothe. My moving frequently has winnowed my papers to a couple plastic file bins. One "important papers", two memoriabilia. This is still too much, I'd like to move it all to the cloud where hopefully it would just dissappear.
Hmmmm,Think if we had a bin of papers from each ancestor going back a dozen generations, how much fun that would be?