Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Today a friend of mine returned to work after being in Hawaii last week, and, as it usually goes, she returned to a pile of stuff on her desk. Happy Monday!!

I told her to just shred everything. If it is anything of importance, the source of the paper that got shredded will follow up and inquire about its status. Then you can deal with it. If no one bothers to follow up then she would have wasted her time looking at it since it must not have been that important.

My old boss once told me that the secret to success was to "outfumble the other guy."

What do you do with all your monthly bills? Do you save them or discard them? If you save them, for how long?

These bills come on thin pieces of paper but all those thin pieces manage to fill up a cabinet very quickly. And for what? Do we really need to save all that stuff?

Maybe all of you out there are already way ahead of me and have either gone paperless or don't even bother to keep anything. Think about it - when is the last time you went back to look at an old utility bill or even a credit card statement?

So finally I decided to go paperless with everything, and just save the bills on my hard drive. Most vendors these days have online payments enabled and you can download your statement in .pdf format. I've just been too lazy to do so. Until yesterday, that is. Yesterday I downloaded everything I could and have everything neatly filed in its own folder on the hard drive. Bank statements, credit card statements, utility bills, etc. Those that can't be paid online or have statements downloaded, I'm just going to scan to a file.

Having everything on the hard drive makes it nice and simple because it will fill up much slower than a filing cabinet would. But I am still wondering, just how long should these statements be kept? People say 7 years - but why? Do I really care what my gas bill was three years ago?

My boss told me years ago that he shreds everything as soon as it is paid; he doesn't keep copies of any of his bills. At that time I thought that was kind of foolish but then he and I have probably gone back to look at a past bill the same number of times since then.

Even though I can't completely get past saving statements, at least they will be kept in bytes rather than in bins.

I mentioned the secret to success that a former boss confided in me above, and here's another tidbit for you:


Anonymous said...

Coming out of meetings I once saw a guy just trash everything that he received. I thought, what an idiot. I walk back to my desk so that people see me with the armful of stuff and then I dump it there. File it all in the round cabinet.

I take screenshots of stuff I pay for online. Why print it out. I then email it to myself with the info in the subject line. Let Google store it for me.

Rickie Miyake said...

Even George Costanza wouldn't be dumb enough to trash everything in full view of everyone, lol. Now I wonder how many people actually make use of the materials that are distributed at meetings and seminars? All that "included is a valuable notebook worth $495 but free if you attend the seminar" stuff - does anyone really use it?