Even if you establish a thoroughly thought through system for your good-to-have material (also referred to as reference-material), it will most likely evolve and grow over time.
The more material you have, the more room it requires and the harder it is to find just what you are searching for – that is, if you don’t clean out.
I can usually distinguish two methods people I meet use to make sure they do not have too much good-to-have material:
Clean out seldom and a lot at a time
Some devote a day every year to cleaning, when they get a few rolls of black plastic bags, order a container and do a proper ”blow out”.
If you get a rush from really getting down to it, and make a large change in one go, this method is probably perfect for you. If cleaning isn’t one of your favorite activities, but rather something you tend to postpone, then the second alternative may be more appropriate for you:
Clean out often and little at a time
This method will fit you who keep your reference material in a well structured system for hanging file folders, like a glove. Take a hanging file folder a week and clear it from anything you no longer will need. And there you are! It is now updated, fresh, cleaned out and thinner. Move some sort of marker from folder to folder as you go along, so that you know which one is next. The tag may be a paperclip, a document clip or a piece of blu-tack.
If you keep your documents in binders, go though one register tab every week instead, and go from binder to binder, from tab to tab so that you within one or two years have gone through the entire system.
There is a bonus effect with this method. It is that you once every week have the chance to be reminded of the possibilities which are otherwise concealed deep within the hanging file folder next in line to be cleaned out. If you chose the “big blow-out method” you will only have the opportunity to go treasure-hunting in your own reference material once a year.
Don’t buy another bookshelf
Regardless what method you chose to operate by the effect will be that you easier will find the material you are looking for when you truly need it. And besides for this, you will not have to buy another bookshelf as the old ones fill up. You have what you need, no more and no less.
What is your way?
So, what do you chose? Often and a little at a time, or a lot and rarely? If you have answered this question successfully or if you have another even better way to get going with cleaning out, let us know by leaving a comment.