I’m a hoarder

Although I have been working with digital files and scanners throughout my entire career, I still own a big black three-drawer filing cabinet that looms menacingly in my home office. It is stacked full of the last seven years of tax returns, my home billing statements, my pay stubs, and most personally, all of the drawings, notes, and cards from my children when they were young.

I should know better than this. I am better than this. At Adlib I work towards eliminating this on a much larger scale every day. So why do I allow this monster in my home office?
I have no idea.

Yes, I keep everything; including emails from myself.

So I’ve decided to eliminate my personal paper storage. It requires me to begin with something else… and that something is organizing my considerable hard drives and backups of digital files. I hoard those as well.

My name is Laurie Parish and I am a personal data hoarder.

Where, how, and what should I do with all of this?
Before my head starts hurting I decide to create a phased plan.

First thing is to deal with the digital file organization. Do I go back through 20 years of correspondence and begin to delete things? No, too much time, and that task is fraught with the danger of losing valued data.

The thought of organizing all this begins to paralyze me… I need to take a coffee break and think on it. Change management is on me, which means I need to examine the reasons this will make my life easier and embrace them.

During my break I realize a few things…

A) I need organized file folders on my computer that mimic those in my cabinet
B) I need to quickly move my docs into those digital folders
C) I can then begin to find the info I need exactly when I need it
D) This exercise is worth the time

On my tertiary hard drive I create the digital version of my home office file cabinet. Then I start to think about creating a backup in the cloud for if when anything happens to my hard disk.

And I think about converting all of my files to PDF format, so that years from now when I no longer have those native applications I can still view those precious files. The PDF/A file format will allow me to avoid the possibility of a personal digital dark age, something I know my customers worry about on a professional level.

Next I deal with the paper. Owning an all-in-one printer that has a document feeder makes this easier, as I scan the paper folders full of documents in order and then drop them into digital folders of the same name in PDF format. I also begin to think about how much easier it would be if I combined documents into a single PDF that I could store for future reference, with names such as Child #1’s grade one artwork or Documents for Tax year 2007. The idea for this came to me as I thought about the many types of Adlib customers that do this for their own portability and storage needs.

Then I shred the paper. This requires me to close my eyes and make a cringing face each time paper hits the shredder.

To eliminate paper from coming back into my space I ask each billing vendor to send my bills or statements digitally. I make sure all of my bank statements are digital. I begin to use capture software on my iPhone to deal with receipts and other paper I might feel obliged to save. I use OCR as a way of making sure I can locate them later by searching for text strings.

Before I know it my ugly metal file cabinet is empty and ready for sale on-line.

So now I have an easily accessible, portable, viewable, searchable, archive-able, storage drive full of my precious documents, which makes it easy for me to find and email at the click of a mouse.

All of this improvement took only a little push. In the average office environment 70% of employees’ time is spent processing paper in some way… even if it’s just shuffling it on their desks.

What are YOU waiting for?

Give Adlib a call to discover how document-to-PDF conversion improves your professional paper hoarding.