Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Last of the 3-Ring Binders

This week when I return to work, I’ll be packing up for yet another office move. The latest round of transformation projects and real estate strategy adjustments has me going from the fourth to the fifth floor. At least I’m moving up in the world! I have moved many times in my career. During each of these moves, I have winnowed down the contents of my office to just the essentials and a few personal items. So when the move coordinator asked how many boxes I’ll need, I replied, “Probably one, but better get me two just in case.” causing her to raise an eyebrow in surprise.

As I think about packing up next week, I realize that office moves are great milestones for reflecting on how things change over the course of our careers. Each time we move, we throw open the drawers and closets and pull out items we might not have seen in a while. We have to decide what to discard and what to take along with us into the next phase. As a learning professional, one of the staple items in my closet has been a collection of 3-ring binders - the ghosts of training past. Less and less of these end up in the “keep pile” with each move.

Two decades ago, when I relocated from New York to Connecticut for a promotional opportunity, I had a ton of these binders. Some from programs I had designed and delivered; others from classes I had attended. Among them, there was at least one binder from a program that probably had a title like, “How to Cope with Change.” I’m sure I checked to make sure I had it backed up on a floppy disk before throwing it into a dumpster along with many others that would not be making the move with me.

Ten years ago, when I moved from a satellite building into our corporate headquarters a few miles away, I still had many 3-ring binders with me. Among them, there was probably one with a title like, “How to Create and Drive Change.” I’m sure I backed it up on a CD, pulled the out pages and put them in a recycling bin, before offering the empty binder to another department for reuse.

Now as I make the move from four to five, I have only a few 3-ring binders with me from some of my favorite programs, one’s that have helped me greatly over the years. Among them is a program with a title like, “How to Manage in an Ever Changing World.” Since no one is using 3-ring binders these days, I’ll make sure it is backed up to our SharePoint site before separating the paper, plastic and metal parts and placing them in the appropriate bins.

Note: for suggestions on what to do with discarded 3-ring binders visit


  1. Interesting. I find I cannot get rid of the binders without scanning everything. Training companies LOVE paper as not everyone brings a computer to class that supports drawing on pages (nor do the majority of ereaders). I have 30+ binders and I use a third of those on a regular basis -- the content is not yet available digitally (or I have to pay literally two thousand dollars for some binders in digital format). You are very lucky.

  2. We very rarely distribute training binders in our classes. Many of our classes are conducted virtually these days. Materials are either distributed through a SharePoint site or occasionally on a thumb drive.

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    1. Summer,

      I can't tell you how many binders I have stuffed and unstuffed during the course of my career, but if I had a dollar for each one...

      Thanks for leaving your comment.


  4. Very interesting article.Thanks for your article I learned something new.

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