2. I have to keep everything.
Belief: I have to keep everything. You just never know when you might need it!
Reality: On average, you can throw away 50 percent of stored information—with no ramifications. But if you're a "keeper" (you know who you are), there's nothing quite as satisfying as laying your hands on that file that no one else can find. Locating it justifies all of your filing and storing efforts. You might recognize yourself in one of these statements:
- I got badly burned when I couldn't lay my hands on an important document. Now, I'm afraid to let go of information.
- I want to be able to justify the decisions I make, so I keep everything.
- If my system crashes, I want backup information.
- I felt so good when no one else could find "that document." As a result, I decided to keep everything so I could continue being helpful.
At some point you made a decision about keeping all your information. That decision has been driving you ever since, but it may not be appropriate in your current situation.
The truth is that most people use only 15 percent of what they file, and this makes filing the other 85 percent ineffective. By clarifying what is useful and letting go of the rest, you can develop a streamlined, functional filing system, make it easier to find what you do keep, and save valuable time and energy that you can direct to more meaningful tasks.