Food + Filing = Fun!

Anne Marie Phillips

We all know that it can be hard to find time to sort through and purge our office files. It seems like a lot of work to add to our already full plates and sometimes the job doesn’t get done until it absolutely has to be, in the face of an upcoming move or when filing space is running low. One department here at Princeton University has chosen to be proactive and tackle the problem on a regular basis. On August 25, I had the pleasure of joining the Department of Mathematics as they continued the annual tradition they call “Filing Day,” a day set aside to review their office files and clear out the ones they no longer need. Led by Kathy Applegate, the Department Manager, all of the department’s staff agreed in advance on a day that they would spend reviewing and purging their records; committing the time and attention to these tasks made the day a great success. There was some wiggle room in each staff member’s day as there always seems to be something that needs to be handled immediately, but they kept the firefighting to a minimum and got their records under control. The key ingredients of the math department’s experience were a large recycling bin, a container for paper files to be shredded, a delicious pot luck lunch, and a great attitude.

When asked what advice she would give to a department that wants to plan their own filing day, Kathy responded, “Plan the day far in advance, so everyone can participate.  It’s good to get lots of recycling containers (may need separate bins for materials that need to be shredded).  Making it fun really helps motivation, that’s why we have the potluck lunch.  We all enjoy bringing in our favorite foods and getting together for an informal lunch.”

Does your department plan regular filing days? Would you like assistance planning a filing day for your department? Contact Princeton University Records Management (, or 609-258-3213).