Organizing and updating useful data

When you hear the word “maintenance” in regard to organizing, you probably think about putting things back where they belong, going through the mail, catching up on filing, etc.

But I did a different sort of maintenance work this past weekend. I maintain a spreadsheet, used by the professional organizers in my area, which lists 400+ places people can donate, sell, or recycle a wide range of things. I hadn’t updated it for about a year, so it was time to do that again.

And so far, over 50 percent of the entries have needed to be changed. Some places went out of business, and one closed four out of its five sites. One business changed its name. Some no longer accept donations or take different things than they did in the past. And many of them had changed their website’s structure so the URLs I had were out of date. What had been a really valuable resource had become much less valuable, as so much of the information was dated.

The same kind of problem can happen with other types of information collections. For example, there’s your address book, in paper or digital form. Addresses (and sometimes phone numbers) change as people move. People marry, divorce, and have children — all of which might mean you want to update your listings for them. The stores and service providers you use change over time. So it might help to go through your address book periodically to ensure the information is kept up to date.

Another example: I have a Dropbox file listing specific things I sometimes buy — things where I might not remember the brand, model number or size when I’m out and about. One of those is the specific type of ink cartridges I use in my printer. But I just discovered that I never updated that when I replaced my printer five months ago. Oops! That’s fixed now.

I also have a medical history file in my Dropbox that summarizes my vaccinations, surgeries, prescription medicines, etc. New doctors ask for this type of information, and I sure don’t want to rely on my memory. I noticed this file was out of date by over a year — missing a surgery and my last flu shot — and I updated it.

Do you have a home inventory? It’s a good idea to have some sort of inventory (photos, video, spreadsheet, inventory app, etc.) in case you need it for insurance purposes. But it’s all too easy to create that inventory and forget to update it as your possessions change.

Another information collection that some people maintain is a list of payment dates for each of their normal bills. And some people who have restricted food diets keep notes on what they can eat at what restaurants.

Whatever useful information you’ve collected and organized, take some time periodically to make sure that information is up to date, so it can continue to serve your needs.

2 Comments for “Organizing and updating useful data”

  1. posted by Pat Reble on

    I have a traditional paper address book along with a digital one. One of the best tips I ever got, from my daughter no less, was write in pencil!

  2. posted by Karen on

    This sounds way too boring!!!

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