I rely on three things to administer my freelance writing business: paper files, electronic files, and e-mail. I’ve already written about how I use PaperJamming and Rollabind to administer my paper files; today I’m going to write about how I’ve customized Cocoatech’s brilliant Path Finder app as my ultimate electronic file manager — and how you can, too.
J. Timothy Sprehe, long-time observer of the federal records management scene and president of Sprehe Information Management Associates, has reviewed the initial release of the Records Management Profile of the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) in Federal Computer Week — and finds that the profile “focuses exclusively on the risk management side of records management.”
What does this mean for federal records managers?
It seemed like the perfect irony: “Archives Organization to Delete Its Own Archives.”
Variations of this headline appeared on quite a few blogs last week when the Society of American Archivists (SAA) announced its intention to delete the accumulated e-mail traffic on its listserv, which dated back to 1993. The SAA’s explanation was that cost of maintaining the list was outweighing its usefulness. Following standard archival procedure, archivists appraised the collection to assess its informational and evidentiary value (that is, to determine whether the collection warranted preservation either because of the long-term value of the information it contained, or because of the value of the collection as a unique artifact in and of itself) and determined that the collection could be discarded.
The outcry that followed, and the subsequent decision by the SAA to forego discarding the collection in favor of trying to find a permanent home for it, provided a telling example of how archives are perceived — and misperceived — by the world at large.
When I was a full-time records management and archives consultant, one of my tasks was to conduct surveys of our clients’ files and assess their recordkeeping practices. Despite the wide range of business conducted by our clients, the themes of their file-management stories were depressingly similar:
- Outdated or nonexistent file management plans
- No centralized colllection points or dedicated staff
- Uncertainty about who was responsible for keeping what
- No guidance on how long to keep files
- Paperwork management not integral to day-to-day operations
Their combined inertia inevitably fueled a downward spiral: I don’t know what to do with these files. I’ll deal with it later. The same goes for these files. I’ll just add them to the pile. Now the pile is way too big for me to manage. I don’t know what to do with these files. I’ll deal with it later . . .
Maybe the trick for those of us living in the era of life hacks and wikis is to find a way to turn the old model on its head and shake the useful loose change out of its pockets, to improvise new and better ways of managing files for our wired world. Welcome to the world of PaperJamming.
Six months ago, I completed the transition of my work-related project and administrative paper files over to a system that uses Rollabind discs as its (literal) backbone. The results have been overwhelmingly positive. Rollabind and Circa products have notably improved my file storage, retrieval, and transfer processes, note-taking, and task management. They’ve even inspired some useful hacks that I will cover in detail in future entries.
Rollabind even wooed me away from legal pads, which had been my constant companions since college. Amazing.
However, for all the inherent strengths of the various products that I’ve tested and adopted for use, there are still some important gaps that need to be filled before the system can be considered a full-fledged paper management system.
I’ll detail my filing technique (which is unstoppable) and my observations on product strengths and weaknesses in future entries. Today, I review how I developed, implemented, and tweaked my Rollabind/Circa system. if you’re thinking about doing a similar implementation, my experience will be a useful case study…