Record-Keeping Advice

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Over at The Unclutterer, there is a series that might be of interest to anyone interested in improving their record-keeping. (Scroll to the bottom of the post for links to the four earlier installments.) My first thought, upon encountering this fifth post was, "Wasn't that topic hot -- oh about a decade ago?" (The first post addresses that very thought, by the way.)

The following excerpt both reminds me of my first foray into improved record-keeping and provides a good feel for what the rest is like:

You probably still need one of these. (Image via Pixabay.)
Is it worth imaging?

If you're going to be shredding the paper within the next year, it may not be worth your time to scan it. The tax returns you are required to keep (but never actually look at again) may be able to sit quietly in a box until they are ready to be shredded. Focus on getting [this] year's documents imaged first, then work backwards in time if required.

Many user manuals for appliances and electronics are probably already in digital format. Don't waste your time scanning them. Search for them online and download them. You can scan the receipt of purchase and keep that with the digital copy of your user manual. [format edits, bold added]
Ah, memories! I remember going hog wild with my new scanner one afternoon back when I lived in Boston, and quickly realizing I was wasting my time. I also realized I would have trouble keeping up such a practice over the long haul. I quit, thinking I'd let ideas for a systematic approach percolate in my mind, but I didn't get back to it. Instead, a combination of indecision and being preoccupied with other things led, over time, to me defaulting into keeping many paper records as paper records, and simply shredding those regularly. It was when I found -- and deleted -- a directory of useless, scanned electric bills a couple of years later that I realized that using a drawer for certain paper records was a time-saver and explicitly made the decision.

I think the series is a good idea: The novelty has worn off of "going paperless," enough that we can more easily see that it makes sense sometimes, and sometimes, not. Note further that the series discusses many other aspects of record-keeping from the perspective of record-keeping principles generally accepted in business.

-- CAV

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