don’t file paper at home anymore. part 3.

In “don’t file paper at home anymore. part 1.” we learned about the Perfectly Organized Woman (POW), her perfect filing system and its inevitable deterioration.

Then, in The Underwear Principle we learned about the power of flexibility, acceptance and riding momentum.

In “don’t file paper at home anymore. part 2.” we read about POW’s transformation. After changing her name to Perfectly Organized Woman, Reformed (POWR), she created a flexible and successful replacement for the “perfect” filing system. This new system, while subject to multiple modifications over the years, is still working today!

But what happens to all that paper when it becomes outdated? Where is it stored for the 7 years required by Uncle Sam? Where does all that paper go while it waits for the shredder? Where is “death row” for the paper in her house?

Referring back to The Underwear Principle, she observed. What actually happened to the papers POW had obsessively filed in those old Archive Folders anyway?


Absolutely nothing. They were never touched again. Neglected. Ignored. For YEARS. Eventually shredded.

So WHY did she put so much time and effort into creating and maintaining them and their predecessors, the Active Files? Why? Why?


Flash forward to today. Picture a blue Rubbermaid tote. Inside are 7 expandable bucket folders. In each bucket folder you see a beautifully disorganized display of paper.

But here’s the beautiful part. Each bucket folder contains one year of paper. If POWR is ever audited, she has all the papers she needs for the friendly IRS auditor She can sort the paper then. If she’s not audited, she never has to sort and can shred with abandon. And shred she has – for the last 7 years. Amazingly, she has never been audited. And she never needed to look up a cell phone number she dialed in March of 2004. She never needed to search for an item listed on her credit card statement in October of 2003. She never needed to find out how much she paid for internet in April of 2002. She has never touched her Archive Folders until shred day. (cross cut, of course).

“But she doesn’t need to keep everything!”


But she also doesn’t want to spend one second sorting through the paper to extract the shreddable from the non-shreddable. Not. One. Second. If one blue Rubbermaid tote will hold it, why sort? Why not just put the lid on the box and every January, feed everything to the shredder?

But hey, if you want to sort paper, go for it. POWR’s too busy.