The Urge to Purge

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As a long-time economic development professional, I have accumulated many many files.  Did I say many?  How many?

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Hundreds upon hundreds of files pertaining to both completed and never-built projects, ownership records of development sites, information from county and State agencies, road agencies, marketing initiatives, planning documents, specific business projects that I have been involved with, shopping centers in the town, grant applications, trade industry documents, budget documents, newsletters that I have written, Chamber of Commerce information and so on and so forth.  A recounting of all my files is boring for me, let alone you.

Suffice it to say that over the years as my mental and physical workspace becomes cluttered with non-actionable but potentially relevant for some future time, I file it away.  Sometimes physically but also digitally so that they do not cloud other categories in my organizational system or projects that I am currently working on.

Because the papers that come across my desk are so voluminous, I have implemented a filing system in my drawers and on my shelves.  A day rarely goes by that I do not have to reference at least one of these files.

My Recent Move

I have recently been transferred to a new office with a new boss after having had the same office and the same boss for the past twelve years.

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Having to move my stuff to another location was stressful, but also provided a golden opportunity to weed out obsolete files, and weed them out I did.  I filled my former department’s full-size recycle bin about three times, but still moved ten times that amount to my new office.

There were quite a few files that I mulled over for a while but ultimately decided to keep.  These are the ones that I could anticipate possibly needing again sometime in the future if I got rid of them.

If the rest of this year passes and they just sit taking up space in my drawers, I will feel the urge to purge them.

Purge In the New Year

For the past few years, I have spent the first few work days of the New Year purging crap from my office.  Cleaning house and disposing of these files keeps them from going stale and becoming a burden.

These past few years, I kept some of the files thinking that I would get rid of them the next New Year, but did not.

This coming New Year, in my continuing effort to not only be a better me, but to become more organized in both my personal and work life, I am planning a big Purge Day in early January.

Just last month, I was transferred from a boss in his mid-sixties who is heavily dependent on paper reports to a Millennial boss who believes that anything we have printed on paper should be digitized.  My own belief is that it lies somewhere in the gray area in between.  I digitize what I can, but feel that many such files will be forgotten as soon as they are converted to pixels.  I may not remember what I called them or where I put them.  Perhaps locating those previously digitized reports and files would be another good goal for this coming year.

My personal Purge Day is in early January and this time I will document how many files I am moving along, both at home and at work.  Chances are if I have not referenced a particular file for the past two or three years, I will not want or need to reference it this coming year either and all that it is doing is taking up valuable space.

I’m not talking about some of my key files, like the Downtown Plan that I recently spent a year-plus working on creating for my community, files on the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts in the town, Economic Development Commission packets going back over the years, the file on our Town Center Redevelopment project or my files on the two business parks that I help develop.

No, I am talking about files on resident surveys that were done ten years ago, a defunct marketing plan, building plans and marketing materials for shopping centers that were never constructed, water and sewer line maps that have since been digitized and other things that are just taking up space as time marches on, waiting for no one.

I am going to do it at home to, and after spending a few days working on it (after all, I still have a job to do at work) I am going to have the three piles – one for the trash bin, one for the recycle bin and one for the shredder.

It may not get me to the point of feeling like I have attained a highly organized life at home and at work, but it will certainly move me closer to that goal.  Becoming organized is not necessarily an end point in my case, but a continuous journey.

I feel the Urge to Purge this stuff in the New Year, and am looking forward to doing it and sharing the details here.



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