Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Decluttering in the strangest places; pt 1 Discovery

shelf_clutterDecluttering is not a new topic here. Clearing out the old to make way for the new is a common theme for a new year or a new phase of life or any kind of move or transition. That said, I do not have it as a goal to pose any serious challenge to the authority or expertise of gurus like Leo Babauta; rather from time to time I run into a decluttering niche that catches me by surprise, and that no one seems to have taken on, so I weigh-in on that particular topic.

Since the new year is now in full swing that means it will be tax time all too soon here in the US and probably where you live as well. The bad part is the risk of finding out you’ve seriously under-estimated your tax bill for the year. However, tax preparation does have an upside; it creates incentive to do serious decluttering of past years’ records that are no longer pertinent or necessary.

The stash

It was this past years’ records issue that revealed itself in a new way this week. The stash that became a snarky issue for me was not credit card carbons or extra copies of closing statements for houses that were sold nearly 30 years ago. The current stash in question was a hoard of old job applications along with copies of everything included in the packets such as cover letters, resumes, reference lists, work and volunteer histories, and so on.

I am presently working through these files of paper-based applications and materials; and I already realize that I have a hoard of e-filed applications and materials lurking on my hard drive as well that will need to be decluttered soon.

How important is it?

So an important question before anything can really be dealt with is “Is any of this important; and if so, then where and how do I store it?”

But that is just the over-arching question. There are several questions about this material that come to mind and it does seem that the answers could vary based on individual factors.

Questions to consider about archiving job applications and related materials:

1. How long is it necessary to keep a copy of a job application package? Is the answer different if you got the job; or if you still work in the industry; or if your work history is less than linear?

2. How long do you need to keep a record of your job search history? Is it necessary at all; or just the precedent to the current job?

3. How long are references and letters of recommendation good for?

4. If you were given a copy of your background check (this is really rare) should you keep it; is it useful; is it an identity theft risk?

5. How should the documents you decide to keep be archived? Is a file drawer okay; or should they be kept in a home fire safe; or do they belong in a safe deposit box?

To be continued...

So far I am just collecting these into one place in some kind of time-lined order. I am certain I have not found them all and already the amount of material is frankly staggering. I have made this is part one of two parts because I don’t have answers about my own stuff or the answers to the questions that will guide my decisions. I will write part two in the next few weeks as I find some answers and work through my pile.

Meanwhile, if you have tackled this issue share how you made your decisions.

Series:

Decluttering in the strangest places; pt 1 Discover

Decluttering in the strangest places; pt 2 Decisions

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