The Quest For The Paperless Office

Three Steps: When To Trash It

Want three steps that will bring you closer to paperlessness? Follow Kanarek's formula. Before keeping any piece of paper, ask yourself these questions:

Will I ever refer to this paper again?

If I toss it and subsequently find I need it, can I get it again?

What is the worst thing that could happen if I toss it and can't replace it but discover I need it?

"If you answer 'no,' 'yes' and 'nothing,' respectively, toss that piece of paper," says Kanarek.

The problem, of course, is that we just don't know the answers to these questions. We don't know if we'll need it again and we don't know how hard it would be to get it again, so we keep it. And plenty more like it. But listen up: The more paper you keep, the less potentially useful any piece becomes because you're that much less likely to ever find it.

"It takes real discipline to be organized," says Winston. "You've got to learn to be very discriminating about what you keep."

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