After my brain’s been immersed in government recordkeeping – technologies, advice, practices, etc – all day long. I come home and following the end of yet another university semester, I encounter personal recordkeeping conundrums. Perhaps not just the bank statements and mobile phone bills, but also documents, articles and other information sources for personal and professional-ish purposes. Stuff just seems to breed during the semester and now I’ve tasked myself with sorting it all again. I do it because I like a tidy study room, clutter free, everything filed in its place ready for the next time I need to retrieve from a (sort of) recordkeeping/information management system of my own.
I’ll admit, my system is always a ‘work in progress’ and I’m constantly tinkering with how I arrange information. I have a basic system of keeping personal records, both paper and digital formats, and organise my computer folders by function or activity. I also have file naming conventions. Really, I can’t help myself, especially when I have the time. Despite all this, I believe I’m better at organising others’ information simply because I don’t keep up with my own information organisation and filing enough.
Speaking of others’ information, there is one rule I have in my house relating to filing. I don’t do my partner’s. I absolutely refuse to and he won’t have me touching his ‘organised chaos’. It pains me to see those piles of paper just sitting there waiting to be organised and filed away. I’ll bet half of what’s there could be thrown out. I have the means; I have a shredder here at home. I’ve even given him an expander file folder!
Now this has me thinking….. Efficiency. Transparency. Ease of retrieval. These are just some benefits to be gained from having a recordkeeping/information management system. With all the piles of paper, you can’t see what is needed, when its needed, or the important information needed to carry on beyond a disaster of some sort. Too much information can be a liability. I see my partner’s desk and I now see a fire hazard. It is possible. The effort into continuing to house all these papers and protecting all that information is probably not required. Imagine the inefficiencies in organisations caused by information clutter? Imagine how much smoother and better informed would operations be, if organisations went to the effort of maintaining a system? Yes there would be initial investment, and that’s same for an individual organising personal files. But after the system is in place, processes established, maintaining the system would be a breeze. Risks are minimised. Efficiencies are optimised.
So what to do about my partner’s example of organised chaos? Well I can’t touch it but I would say there’s no easy way to sort it out. Every piece of paper would need to be looked at, organised into categories and dates, appraised for ongoing value and given an appropriate retention period and storage solution, in recordkeeping speak.
Gah! Oh, I want to sort it now!