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Going Paperless: Getting Hold of Reality

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It’s time to work out the processing phase of my future paperless system.

Quick recap: First, I’ve gotten clear about how I’d actually like to use my stuff once I’ll have gone paperless. I think making sure I enjoy the ways I work makes it more likely for me to keep to my system. Second, from this „how“ I’ve derived my personal requirements for security and convenience – and based on that chosen appropriate tools.

Now let’s dive deeper!

So – processing documents – what do I need to understand / decide / setup here? I think this part will be all about the core stuff:

  1. STRUCTURING the kinds of documents that I actually have to deal with
    (so that I keep a clean overview)
  2. METHODOLOGY in naming conventions for files and folders
    (in order to enable simplified day-to-day handling)
  3. AUTOMATION of file and folder handling
    (to minimise personal effort)

Yes I like to break things down systematically. Makes it easier to fine tune. And I want my band to groove! And because I’ll have to write it up as I actually progress in my little project here, I’ll split my posts about the entire processing phase in the above mentioned 3 parts.

I’ll start out with the STRUCTURE part 1 “Getting Hold of Reality”

After 5 weeks of parental leave (and with my newborn demanding far more attention than – say – my phone bills…), my paper inbox has piled up… So why not use this as an opportunity to actually see WHAT paper really comes in regularly! (Kind of what GTD’ers do when they start out with collecting everything that’s on their mind to see what commitments they actually have (sub)consiously!)

So, to get an overview of what documents I’ll actually have to deal with, I went through my pile of paper and – well – made smaller piles divided by topics like

  • banking
  • insurance
  • invoices
  • home
  • manuals
  • invitations
  • private mail (yes I confess I had completely forgotten to open some…)
  • stuff to sort out later
  • urgent & important stuff to do ASAP (get the present for mom’s 65th birthday THIS WEEK)

(I guess these smaller piles might already resemble more or less the paperless folder structure that I’ll end up with…)

Inside the piles of course gathered documents that are typical for each pile topic. For example my banking pile consisted of:

  • Monthly listings of purchases with my Credit Card
  • Summaries of my savings progress with different accounts
  • Also the administrational documents of the new bank account that I opened for my wife and myself as „family account“ as well as the new bank account to hold future savings for my child.
  • etc.

Accordingly for each other pile. This really gave me a very practical overview of what life is actually throwing at me and how exactly that stuff looks like.

So what next? Take notes of it all and brainstorm about file naming? Scan examples? Leave it spread out on the floor until I have figured out my system?? The latter was NOT an option (as my beloved wife pointed out) ;-) Hmmm… So I opted for:

  1. SCAN AN EXAMPLE of each type of document (to an action folder as David Sparks describes in his podcast and book)
  2. NAME IT with a simple explanatory name w/o much tadaa (just so that I can identify it later when I’ll tinker with file naming conventions)
  3. FILE THE PAPER version in the physical folder where it would usually go (just for now)

Good decision. After this I felt very much on the right track. Not only had I worked my paper pile down to what would needed immediate action. More importantly for my project I now have a bunch of real life examples for folders and files that I can perfectly use to develop core parts of the methodology in a next step.

Stay tuned.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. I’ve edited this article today in order to make it more focused. Hope that helps ;-)

    27. November 2012

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