Re: Organizing Materials
Mon, 18 Nov 1996 19:28:02 -0600
I KNOW that Jessica is wanting (waiting) for me to answer this particular
posting!! (Blackeagle Services, to which Jessica is trying to run and take
care of herself and her mother in my physical absense, is an information
management small business)
John Van Blarcom asked a great question about information management:
>What is the best way to organize the mounds of materials I'm being
>swamped with as cubmaster? I am using a combination of boxes and bins.
Pick a day where you can dedicate the majority of the day toward completing
this organizational goal. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to organize
some materials over a period of time, especially if you don't write down (and
most folks don't) the WAY you did it!!
Next, separate the materials into four distinct groupings:
EVERYDAY STUFF: This is the stuff like my four-pound binder that sits on
the shelf in my barracks room, alongside the patch binder and the Geoworks
binder and the small binder that has Public Affairs information. I use
colored binders for different stuff, and in the front of each binder there's
which tells (most times *sour face*...I haven't updated the pages, which I
(and you) should do when you add or take away something from that binder)
what's in there. This *alone* cuts the time factor downward when you need
to find something quickly, because you don't have to flip through each binder
"looking for something".
WEEKLY STUFF: This is the stuff like my Commissioner's Workbook binder
(the green one, Jessica, sitting in the stereo cabinet that I'm using as a
and "Die Deutsche Buch" (the Germany Book) which is maintained downstairs
on the desk near the living room. Other "weekly stuff" include meeting notes,
directory of leaders, etc. Place this material in a DIFFERENT LOCATION than
your everyday stuff. This prevents you from lumping everything together and
allows you to "go into the zone" when you get ready for it (for instance, when
I "do the commissioner thing", I know that I have to change uniform shirts (in
the closet) and then get the Commissioner book from the "shelf").
MONTHLY STUFF: Roundtable stuff, stuff from the Council office, newsletters,
_Scouting_, _Boy's Life_ and other stuff that you read and review, gleen
information from, and then store it somewhere to use DURING THAT MONTH
or which you anticipate using THAT MONTH. Place this in a box or in one of
those cardboard "magazine boxes" that you can label with the month and topic
(I have three sets: computer stuff, Scouting stuff, military stuff). These
go on a bookcase, where you can get access to them and be reminded that they
are there for
your usage. When you are frequently reminded of things, you'll do them or get
frustrated that they are still there, reminding you that you have to do it
overflowing garbage cans).
YEARLY STUFF: This is stuff that you feel that you will want to use within the
coming year (or within three years). Professional organizers say that you
re-look your yearly stuff every three years and throw away up to 60 percent of
what you have stored; I disagree (with the experience to back it up!) and
say that if
you have not TOUCHED it within five years, toss it. When you touch something,
I'm told, there are receptors in your brain that remembers what you've
somehow, while you are looking for something else, your brain works like your
hard drive and starts searching for all images of "Scouting books" for
instance. This explains how come we can always find stuff that we're NOT
looking for easier than we can the item or thing we're intently looking
(tearing the room up) for....and we
state "THAT'S where it is!!" even before knowing what exactly it is we suddendly
rememebered!! The yearly stuff goes best in a box, labeled with the year
in a closet or other location relatively free from wetness, small children,
and significant others looking for "empty boxes", and sight. Don't forget
to document what you have IN that box somewhere so that when you start looking,
you can go immediately to Box 1994 or "Box E".
There are several themes running through this posting, John:
*binders. Binders are better on paper than boxes or folders. Neater and can
be carried with miminal loss of paper. Staple, glue or tape smaller pieces to
larger pages. Don't be concerned about size of binders....like your hard drive,
if you find large binders, you'll find enough paper and books to fill it and
Resist the urge to get a larger binder when they fill....instead look at
have in there and start doing some thinning instead.
*notes. Note everything. I use a database to find postings that I've saved
diskettes but Jessica will tell you, I didn't label the diskettes. Bad
Infoman!! Good thing I *did* label the diskettes electronically however, or I
would NEVER be able to find anything. Have an index handy...in one of your
EVERYDAY binders, so that you know WHAT you have and WHERE it is.
It's also a great and handy hint for important papers in the event of an
*backup. I have paper products that would be the envy of several recyclable
places!! I also have electronic and microfilmed stuff stored away too, just
later on little Kailey discovers fire and torches the room by mistake. I've
invested in several bookcases which while makes the organization better also
eats up space.
*process. Go through your stuff periodally and discover some really neat stuff.
Don't forget to touch and look...your body works much better than the BEST of
the personal computers out there, and with a high degree of accuracy. At
time, don't concern yourself with stuff that you'll never get any use
be afraid to throw stuff away and "start over" with other, newer stuff (I
I do miss the older stuff and end up getting more old stuff anyway).
*separate. Separate the daily stuff from the weekly stuff from the yearly stuff.
Separate the locations of your weekly stuff from each other so you are forced to
remember what it is for and why it is important. Separate the boxes for
stuff from the magazine boxes for the monthly stuff. Make an "index page"
front of each binder you use so that you can glance and see the contents
start riffling through.
*recycle. We have a lot of paper in this world, and we all need to do as
much as we can to reduce the amount we use, reuse the resources we have and
recycle it when we no longer have a usage for it. Whether or not you get
"money back" for your
efforts, you need to take your paper to someplace where they can shredd it
and turn it back into more paper...therefore conserving the beautiful trees
which we use for
teaching respect and recreation of the land.
Hope this all helps!!
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle)
(Brigade) Signal Officer, TF 21, 21st Theater Army Area Command
Kaiserslautern, Federal Republic of Germany
"everything I say is "on the record"; speaking ONLY for myself unless indicated"
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