My basement project hit a bump in the road on Wednesday when I made the mistake of touching one of my old teaching files. I pulled the file out of its Rubbermaid bin, thumbed through the pieces of paper, and felt a nostalgic tug at my heart strings.
I can’t throw this away! I must keep it! I worked hard to make this stuff!
I told my husband I had changed my mind and I wasn’t going to let the six bins of teaching paperwork go. He laughed, and then realized I was serious.
PJ: You don’t need it.
Me: Yes I do!
PJ: Why do you need it? Have you looked at it a single time in the past four years?
Me: I looked at it today!
PJ: That doesn’t count.
Me: Sure it does.
PJ: Maybe you could scan the files?
Me: That will take a lot of time. It’s easier just to put this stuff back into the basement.
PJ: Wasn’t your goal to clear the clutter from the basement, not pull the clutter out and then put it back?
Me: I guess this is what I get for marrying a guy who pays attention to what I say.
PJ: Yes, dear.
Except for a couple hours this morning pulling out the washer and dryer, sweeping the floor where they had been, and doing a general cleanup in the laundry area of the basement, I’ve been sorting, scanning, and recycling a couple hundred pounds of paperwork. Truth be told, I’m missing the basement. Organizing tools and unearthing strange cleaning supplies is infinitely more fun than digitizing old papers.
Here’s how I’m tackling the paperwork portion of this project:
- Sort. I didn’t do a very good job of editing these files before I put them into storage. So, many of these papers are going straight into the recycling bin instead of being prepped for scanning.
- Scan. I’m using our ScanSnap, which has a multi-page document feeder and optical character recognition (OCR). After the pages are turned into searchable PDFs, I’m recycling or shredding the pages.
- File. As the final step in the process, I’m using DEVONthink to manage all of the digital files on my computer. Since the OCR process identifies the words in the documents, I’m primarily relying on the Google Desktop search function to find anything I might one day need.
Part of me thinks that digitizing these old papers is a complete waste of time. However, the sentimental part of me won’t let me get rid of the files any other way. I don’t know if I’m going to scan all six boxes of files, seeing as the activity is already starting to grate on my nerves. I’ve committed to sorting through everything, though, so I’ll at least know what I’m tossing. I don’t want to make the mistake again of blindly throwing away a box of items only to learn later that it included my social security card and passport — I’ve made that mistake, and replacing them was a nightmare.
Other posts in this series: