Worth repeating: Five questions to ask yourself before getting rid of paper

22 June 2020


Paper is one of the toughest things for people to make decisions about. I wrote this post eight years ago to help you figure out whether you need to keep a piece of paper. These five questions are still valid today.

Sometimes when I work with clients, I realize that they’ve hung onto a lot of paper out of fear. They’re afraid that they’ll toss or shred a piece of paper and find out later that they need it.

When you’re afraid to let go of paper, before long you get overrun. Then you add a feeling of overwhelm to the fear and it becomes really hard to go through the paper.

So to make things a little easier (and perhaps take away some of the fear), here are the five questions I suggest you ask yourself when you’re trying to make a decision about whether or not to keep a particular piece of paper (particularly paper related to finances):

  • Can I get this information online?
  • Can I replace this paper if necessary?
  • Have I kept this type of information in the past and, if so, did I reference it?
  • Can I scan this document and keep it electronically?
  • What’s the worse that can happen if I get rid of this?

The fact of the matter is that very few papers are irreplaceable. So fear of getting rid of them is pretty unwarranted. You can always ask your tax advisor or your financial planner for advice. But hanging onto unneeded paper can weigh you down.

Why not take a few minutes now to go through your file cabinet and get rid of some outdated paper? (Don’t forget to shred anything with identifying information like social security numbers or account numbers.)

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

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About Janine

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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