tuesday hack: rollabind hanging folders

Rollabind Hanging FoldersRegular readers know that my freelance writing business is completely “on the rings.” From creation to disposal, almost every printed document I work with ends up in a Rollabind or Circa notebook. I have Circa notebooks for administrative documents, project files, and permanent archives. For admin files, I use punched poly folders. For project files, I use Jotz Refillable Notebooks.

But for the permanent records — as defined in my PaperJamming schedules — I decided to do something different. I transferred permanent records to their own Rollabind notebooks once they were no longer needed in the admin or project folders, which I stored in plastic file boxes. While this method worked fine, it lacked a certain elegance — that sense of modular panache which Rollabind and Circa users have come to expect from these systems.

What I wanted, in other words, was a Circa-fied approach to hanging folders.

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paperjamming podcast

PaperJamming CardLast week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Stephanie Diamond of the Marketing Message Blog for her podcast about PaperJamming. It was a pleasure chatting with her beforehand about how to apply PJ to business files, as well as during our relaxed, conversational interview. Thanks, Stephanie!

The podcast is now available on Stephanie’s blog here. In it, I talk about the ideas behind PaperJamming and describe the basic elements of Types and Stages for organizing, storing, and disposing paper and electronic files simply and easily . It’s a good introduction to the philosophy and principles behind the PaperJamming approach to personalized file management made fun.

Stephanie wrote that she finds PaperJamming to be a “brilliant conceptual idea. . . . Simple, elegant.” I hope you’ll give the podcast a listen and then head on over to the free downloadable templates and give PaperJamming a try for managing your business files.

Remember, just because your files have a life of their own doesn’t mean they have to run yours.

does your past have a future?

HourglassWould you deliberately set fire to your family’s photo albums? Wantonly wave an electromagnet over cassette recordings of your child’s first words? Smash your copy of the White Album into fragments with a hammer? Shred your grandparents’ love letters?

Of course not.

But if you’re using popular media formats to store your digital pictures, music, and e-mails, you might as well be.

Andrea Japzon wants you to ponder that — and then get busy preserving your digital legacy.

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introducing cardnets

CardNet Blank FrameShortly after I introduced the latest round of Active Voice productivity templates for the Hipster PDA (hPDA — available as free downloads here), I started to think about what the next round of templates would look like.

I wanted them to be different — not just in terms of content, but also in terms of the way they actually worked.

I took a look at how hPDA cards are designed, and how people use them. Most cards are designed to be used either as stand-alone units or together in sequence. But in life, few good ideas unfold in a steady linear direction over time — they tend to go off in many different directions at once.

So, I asked, what would cards look like that were designed to be used, not in straight lines, but in nonlinear networks? What if they could capture the multidimensional, interrelated nature of our ideas as they happen? CardNets are my answer. Maybe they can be yours, too.

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nara’s new ‘era’: 40 years in the making

Streams of binary digitsOn Tuesday, I participated in a webinar hosted by Government Computer News on “The E-Records Management Tsunami: NARA’s Electronic Records Archive to the Rescue.” It featured Michael Carlson, Director of the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division and was hosted by Joab Jackson, GCN’s chief technology editor. A recording of the seminar is now available (60 min., Real Audio), and it is well worth a listen.

Will NARA succeed in its multimillion dollar effort to solve the federal government’s electronic information management crisis?

Maybe — but we’ll have to wait five years to find out . . .

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paperjamming your computer

Cluttered DeskFor freelance writers, it’s all about the clip. All your research files, interview transcripts, and notes are there to help you create a professionally written product. But what do you do with the rest?

Considering how inexpensive external storage is these days, it might seem easier to just keep buying more — and larger — external hard drives or to upload your old files to an online storage provider. But those options have some very tangible drawbacks for freelancers.

As a freelancer, you have contractual and legal obligations to keep certain records for a specified time. Beyond those, disposal significantly reduces the amount of time that a program like Blacktree’s popular Quicksilver requires to index your files. It also cuts down the time — and narrows the results — of keyword and metadata searches.

In short, the less stuff you have to manage, the less you have to manage stuff.

That’s where PaperJamming techniques and templates come in. PaperJamming is personalized file management made fun. Here’s how to implement it on your computer:

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three common misconceptions about e-mail

Full TrashJournalist Xeni Jardin recently discussed the perils of storing and deleting government e-mail on her weekly NPR spot, XeniTech. Prompted by the recent controversial decision by the District of Columbia government to purge all e-mails every six months, Jardin presented a brief overview of the complex issue of electronic records retention.

Unintentionally, Jardin’s piece highlights and perpetuates some of the most common misconceptions about the nature of records management in the information age. Let’s take a look:

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path finder for freelancers (mac)

My Path Finder ConfigurationI 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.

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paperjamming for freelancers

Not only are freelance writers their own bosses, they are also their own administrative assistants. And every doubling of duty results in a halving of available time. That’s one of the reasons that freelancers represent such a large proportion of the audience for organizational systems like David Allen’s Getting Things Done, Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders, and planners like Day-Timer and Franklin Covey.

Here’s the thing, though: no matter what organizational system you adopt for your freelance business, you still have to interface with the legal, financial, and contractual requirements of the rest of the world. And those requirements can be complicated. Plus, you still have to manage all those paper and electronic files you create. And store them somewhere. All of this while trying to develop and manage your business.

PaperJamming templates help you manage your files on the fly. These handy templates, featuring the distinctive and popular Active Voice design, distill professional information management practices into clear, easy-to-grasp guidelines. Now you can control your files right from your hPDA.

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paperjamming: file management 2.0

Cluttered DeskWhen 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 . . .

Sound familiar?

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.

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