Friday, January 20, 2012

Scan It, Shred It, Repeat

I have an exciting evening planned. The scanner and I are getting to work making digital copies of a giant box full of records. Then 3 binders and a stack of clear sheet-protectors and I are going to organize, alphabetize, categorize, and label the records from 2009, 2010, and 2011. Then the shredder and I are going to make short work of all the records from 1995-2008. To keep morale high, the computer will independently play a Sex & the City marathon and I will take frequent trips to the kitchen for mineral water refills. Oh yeah, I sure know how to live it up on a Friday night!

When I agreed to serve as Treasurer for a professional organization I am a part of, I had no idea how much *stuff* would come along with that position. No, I'm not talking about the time commitment, the many trips to the bank, or occasional reports to pull together. I'm talking about STUFF - a *giant* box full of paper that arrived a few short
weeks after I came on board. Holy fire hazard!

As one of the youngest members of this professional organization, I felt it was my duty to go beyond the basic duties of Treasurer (you know...taking care of the money!) and to digitally organize this mess of records I received in the mail, if for no other reason than to avoid paying $40 to ship the box to the next Treasurer at the end of my
term! And yes, I'm being ageist and I'm sorry if that offends you, but in my experience older professionals tend to be far less open to change than those of us who don't remember life before the internet. So anyhow, I got permission to take us digital (or more digital - they did ask me to keep paper records for the past 3-4 years) at our annual meeting last May, but of course haven't made the time to really dive into the project before now.

My original plan was to scan everything and then burn it
onto CD-Rs, like one for each year of records. Two copies would be made of these CD-Rs; one would stay with the current Treasurer and the back-up copy would be kept with one of our members, who happens to be an accountant and does our audit every year. Simple, right? Except it still leads to clutter, because every year we add another CD-R. Aargh!

One very pleasant side effect of starting my new job back in July was an opportunity to explore more online storage options, aka *The Cloud*. I love the cloud. It's like having a really, really big purse that you can open up anywhere there's an internet connection. My PC at home? Check! My PC at work? Check! My colleague's Mac in Nebraska? Check! Another colleague's Blackberry in Colorado? Check! It's beautiful, I tell you!

So my current cloud storage of choice is Dropbox. It doesn't allow you a tremendous amount of free storage, but you can "earn" additional space by recommending Dropbox to friends. When they make an account and install the easy-peasy-downloader-thingie, you get more space. Isn't social media beautiful?

I think feeling so unsettled and home-less this year has really made me appreciate cloud storage even more. No matter where I go, there are my files. I actually have two accounts already: one for work and one for home. It's right up there with Facebook or Pinterest, as far as addictability goes, but with far less chance of wasting a ton of time playing on it. Dropbox is utilitarian, and I love it.

You may be interested to know that, in the time it took me to write this post, edit this post, and find cute little illustrations to go along with it, I've already scanned and filed all of 2010 and am now hard at work on 2009. Yay, me! I was actually supposed to be up in Tacoma this weekend, but a freak, massive snowstorm made a safe drive pretty much impossible. So, here I am - at home, alone, with time to work on a big organizational project and maybe even to do some laundry, clean my room, etc. I'll keep you posted on my progress. If you had some unexpected time off - an hour, a day, a weekend, etc. - what major project would you like to take on?


  1. Good for you! I have been the treasurer of a parents' group at my girls' school, and a secretary of our homeowners' assoc., and I, too, was appalled at all the 'stuff' I inherited with each position. But you're a bit more conscientious than I was ... I chucked quite a bit. I figure no one will go back more than 10 years into the history, and so ... recycling, bin, there they went. I think future officers will thank me :)

  2. Great post! Been reading a lot about going paperless. Thanks for all the info here!