I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I have a problem. I have a problem with keeping everything that I’ve ever had and not wanting to throw anything away. Now, before I go any further, I’d like to say that I have a reputation for being very thorough, tidy and organized both professionally and personally. However, my roommate has brought to my attention that I am one step away from being a hoarder. Why would he say that? I have to admit that I have files and other data from as far back as 1996 (yes, 15 years old)! Where is all of this stuff? Neatly organized IN MY GARAGE!
Every time that I have had to move, I always struggle with getting rid of all these files that I have kept over the years from my office, school, etc. I always feel as though I will be able to use them at some point. Hopefully by this point, some of you reading this article would be able to relate. The old file on Leadership or the file on Transition always seems to have use. I guess the question for me is how I want to move forward with all this wealth of resources that I’ve built and collected over the years.
After much consideration and soul searching . . . I’ve concluded that I should seriously go through the MANY, MANY, MANY boxes and convert the worthy into digital files. Now, of course, I’m not getting rid of a majority of my files, but at least I am accepting the electronic times that we are in and going paperless. Hence, I invested in a nifty digital scanning electronic filing system that has literally opened my eyes to the future. With this new electronic filing system, I can simply scan any files (even receipts) and the system automatically allows me to file it away electronically. If I wish to find it for later use, I can type in a certain word in the search menu and the document pops up. In addition, this also files any receipts, automatically scanning the important information on the receipt into the system. If I wish to export any of this information into word, PDF, or excel, I can do so at the click of a button.
Even though I am not completely ready to just give up my files, I do take comfort in knowing that I can use my garage for other things beside storage of files. With this being said, I really encourage us all to take a true look at our habits professionally and personally . . . some are justifiable, while others are probably a bit archaic (like mine). I’ve had a chance to visit many colleagues’ offices over the years. I’ve seen many with notebooks labeled all the way back to 1975, filing cabinets that are so full, you now have to file things on portable filling carts under your desk. Let’s get real with ourselves, it’s probably time that those are discarded . . . or at least archived electronically if you are a historical buff. We probably can’t ever get away from paper, but at least we can embrace the concept of going paperless. Trust me; if I can do it, you surely can as well.
Mr. Paper to Mr. Electronic
Rinardo Reddick is a doctoral student in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Iowa State University and coordinator for America Reads/America Counts.