To File or Pile? →

January 05, 2015 |

Interesting article by Roberta Kwok, on how a study found out that “filers”, the people who clean up their desks by organizing papers into files, end up keeping many more useless papers that “pilers”, those who just let papers pile up on their desks until the mess is unbearable:

Why? Filers, eager to clean off their desks, might automatically store papers that are in fact useless (a disorder that the study authors dub “premature filing”). Once they’ve put the effort into organizing that paper, they’re reluctant to throw it out. Pilers, on the other hand, can gleefully toss their messy stacks without feeling guilt over time wasted on sorting. As one piler explains, “[I]t really wasn’t well-organized yet, anyway… So, it wasn’t too big a thing to stand there with a pile of papers over the trash can and ruthlessly throw them in.”

Sounds about right. It’s surprisingly easy to convince ourselves to keep storing useless stuff forever, just in case we need it one day.

Please note that this also affects “digital filers”: junk stored on your hard drive is still junk, even if it doesn’t take up much physical space. This is particularly relevant in light of this other linked article from earlier today.