Sunday, April 22, 2012

3 Reasons to Trash Your Office

I've started the process of ridding my office of 24 years worth of "stuff" that has accumulated. I never should have waited this long ... Here are three reasons to trash your office ....

1. Space: Do you really need papers and files everywhere? How much of what is in your office is never going to be looked at again by anyone, for any reason? Take the time to go through every file and trash what needs to be trashed; put in master files what needs to be retained; or scan what can really be kept electronically. I even threw away 23 years of old calendars - no one is ever going to ask me what I did in April 1992.

2. Liability: Your attorney and CPA can confirm that it creates liability for your association to keep too many years of information you are not required to keep or "notes" from meetings that already have final minutes. If you've ever been subpoenaed, or know an association executive who has, it's the notes on the minutes that are as big a problem (if not a bigger problem) than the minutes themselves. Our fiduciary to our employer should ensure we aren't creating future liability by not just taking the time to destroy unnecessary old documents. 

3. Catharsis: It may breathe new life into your office, file cabinets and building to have the clutter go away. And saying a final goodbye to books, magazines, random conference swag, and notes you will never reference ever again has a cathartic quality too.

Helpful tips:

1. Identify a "Trash Your Office Day" where the entire staff is involved with going through bookshelves, filing cabinets, desk space, and even under their desks for what can be removed.

2. Trash your Storage Unit too! If you are not routinely shredding documents that are past the years you need to retain them, then go to your storage unit and do it now. One day of effort could save serious headaches and problems later.

3. Call the on-site shredders! You should never put old files out in your outside garbage bin. On-site shredders are far less expensive than you might think. They will drive right to your office (and storage facility!) and shred everything on site - so you don't need to worry who might dig through them. And remember, there is no hard drive that can be completely wiped of all history - so trash your old servers and hard drives too. They can do that on-site as well.
4.  Think electronically next - Every association needs a policy (and process) for deleting old email.  You should NOT be saving thousands or hundreds of thousands of emails that are unnecessary.  Check how to have email automatically delete if it is not otherwise intentionally filed.  And check those old electronic email files too - and delete unless it's really important to retain.

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