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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 13: Overhaul Your Filing Cabinet

Level Easy

Platform All

Cost Free

One of the main clutter culprits in most offices is the To File pile. Often, this heap spontaneously appears right on top of or next to the filing cabinet, which is silly. Instead of adding stuff to the pile, why wouldn’t you just file it? The reason is generally an unworkable, messy, overflowing file cabinet.

This hack explains how to revamp your overstuffed, under-labeled file system and turn it into a neat, breezy, and pleasurable place to organize your important paperwork.

Give Your Paperwork a Spacious Place to Live

Face it: That plastic file box or enormous binder held shut with a rubber band just isn’t going to cut it. You have personal, financial, insurance, car, client, tax, and medical paperwork to track.

If you’ve been using an undersized filing cabinet that can’t possibly accommodate your stuff — or have no filing cabinet at all — invest in a spacious, well-designed file drawer or cabinet that leaves you room to spare. Lots of room. In fact, Getting Things Done author David Allen says that your file drawer should be only three-quarters full: “If you want to get rid of your unconscious resistance to filing, then you must keep the drawers loose enough that you can insert and retrieve files without effort.”1

If you’re out to buy a new filing cabinet, he also advises you not to skimp on quality.

“Nothing is worse than trying to open a heavy file drawer and hearing that awful screech! that happens when ...

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