The Deletist is about focusing on strategic saving and getting rid of the rest. It can sometimes be challenging to figure out what should be kept and what can be tossed, especially when it comes to documents and information. The volume of documents and information produced by each of us (e.g. emails, etc.) combined with cheap storage options, competing priorities, and a lack of awareness makes it easy to adopt a “Let’s Just Save Everything, Just In Case” mindset.
Although saving everything is tempting, it will eventually lead to challenges. Saving everything slows down searches and makes the results less successful because there is more volume to search through to find one thing. Strategic saving means you’re only saving documents that retain value thereby decreasing the volume and increasing the quality. It means you are more likely to find what you need, when you need it. Additionally, saving strategically means you have less volume to manage over time and are more likely to be able to keep track of it.
If your computer got corrupted or your email was hacked, would you know what had been compromised? Would you know what to restore first? Chances are, probably not.
People often ask me how to identify which documents and emails should be saved. The answer is not always straight forward, but with a little practice and education, it becomes easier. Here are a couple of tips based on my experiences to help you make that determination.
- Pay attention to documents you create and use in your personal life. Although this won’t be all the documents that need to be kept, it will give you a good starting point. Focus on these documents first.
- Identify and protect your personal vital documents. “Vital” is a designation that records and information professionals sometimes assign to certain documents without which you could not function. Examples of this include, but are not limited to, forms of identification (i.e. passport, drivers license, birth certificate, SIN/SSN cards), active agreements/contracts/policies, a will and/or power of attorney, and ownership documents (e.g. car or property).
- Decide how long information retains its value for you. For example, do you need your resumes from 10 years ago? This will likely change depending on the type of information, but will help you to establish some guidelines.
Before purging, it’s always good to establish criteria or rules to keep you consistent, focused, and moving forward.