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Day Three: Sort & Purge

Goal: To complete any remaining sorting in your designated area and to eliminate any paper that you no longer need.


Sorting and purging are the most labor intensive of the process, which is why we have devoted several days to these steps.

But, the efforts you put into these steps are the key to creating a successful, sustainable system.

1. Sort

Pick up where you left off yesterday and continue to fine tune your categories, if need be.

As you are establishing your categories, begin to envision what types of organization systems and processes may work for maintaining this area.


Remember, the organization System is the physical system that you will use to organize and store the papers.

The Process is the action steps you will take to get your paperwork from point A to its final resting point.

These two things work together to keep your home organized and your mind sane.


Once you have a process established, you do not have to re-invent the wheel every time you have a piece of paper in your hand.



2. Purge

Done sorting?

Now, comes the fun part! You get to eliminate stuff.

First, start by taking out your pile or bag(s) of recycling that you have already gathered.

Get them all the way out of your house, if possible.

Ahhhh, doesn’t that feel better already?

Now, it’s time to return to each of your categories and make decisions about what stays and what goes.


The process can feel very monotonous, but I urge you to be patient, reminding yourself of the ultimate goal of more clarity and a more effective system.


Do you have things to shred? Do you own a shredder?

If so, get to it, and enjoy the meditation of the whirrrr of your shredder as your paper past disappears into bits.

If you do not own a shredder, now is the time to assess if it is necessary to acquire one. If you don’t have much in the way of “confidential” docs, it won’t be necessary.

Consider a small pile as fire pit fodder, for example.



What to keep & what to lose

Once you have let go of the obvious discard piles, assess if there is any remaining paperwork that can be released.

For example, are you keeping things because you think you may need them for future use?

Consult this handy, dandy guide from the IRS and this and this to determine what stays and what goes, based on legal guidelines and recommendations.


What about the “I may need this” paperwork?

Do you have a scanner? Is it possible for you to create digital records instead of paper of a certain category? Only consider that if it is a practical solution for your specific situation.

Remember, I also had you create memorabilia and archive categories. You can certainly put things in these categories that fall under, “I really want to keep this, even though it serves no specific purpose” but remember to use these categories sparingly.

You don’t want to end up storing an abundance of “inactive paperwork.”


Copyright © 2015. Susan Shehata. All Rights Reserved.