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The tidiness ninja strikes again!

I loathe bureaucracy in all its forms. And I really don't understand why so many companies, organisations, and people feel the need to clutter up other people's houses with pieces of paper that aren't either proper letters (I'm a big fan) or nice cards (also a fan). As you may know I did a major blitz on paper before we left Finland; I bought a decent scanner and digitised everything that needed to be kept (or was just interesting), and binned about 15 years worth of processed dead trees. The only things I kept were either official papers (birth certificates and so on), or things that had sentimental or other value as artefacts (a concert program signed by Louis Armstrong, some of the fathers day cards my kids have made me, things like that).

The pile had grown to critical proportions over the last month, as you can see from this little vlog I did:

So, step one is to make a big pile of all the paper, and put it next to a paper-recycle bin, like so:

One pile, one bin.

Then go through the pile, and sort it into two: keep/scan, or straight to bin. Be ruthless. At my advanced level, I get to split the keep/scan pile already into keep no need to scan; scan; and check with wife, and I also do some sorting into source or type on the fly, because I've done this enough that that actually saves me time because the decisions are very fast. Here's the martial-arty-bit: the difference in reaction time between a single response (on signal, go!) and one with two options (on signal, go left OR go right!) is about a 60% increase. And it just gets worse the more options there are. So at first it's best to make every response binary: scan/keep or straight to bin. The pile is now a lot smaller; and there are actually only three on this table:

the piles.



Then it's out with the scanner. I'm using the NeatDesk, and it is amazing. The stuff just zips through.

Every time something is scanned, it goes directly into the “keep” pile, or it's ripped (to prevent remorse) and goes directly into the bin. And everthing is scanned straight to pdf, the file named, and filed in my documents folder (I use Neat's own archive system, which works well).

Then (and this is a critical step) all the ‘keep' stuff gets put away properly. Because everything is still a bit ad-hoc in the new home, this entailed quite a bit of sorting and rearranging, and in the process I set up the big computer. This meant that a couple of dvds of fencing books got loaded onto it, and the flurry of uploading fencing treatises for free can recommence.

Let's start that with something really gorgeous. Camillo Agrippa, 1553, Scientia d'Arme.


In other news, my course Recreate Historical Swordsmanship from Historical Sources went live over the weekend. It's got about a quarter of its content up so far, and I'll be adding more regularly. The idea behind letting students enrol before the course is finished is to allow me to take their needs and feedback into account as the course is developed. This should produce a much better end product than anything I could just create from scratch. If you're on the mailing list, you should have a 50% discount code; if you didn't get it, then let me know and I'll send it again.

And to recap:

  1. All paper into one pile.
  2. Quickly go through the pile and throw out as much as possible.
  3. Scan and bin what's left, keep only the essentials.
  4. Name and file pdfs as you go
  5. Put away all the kept items.


I'm sure you have an opinion: do share!

One Response

  1. Having been following this procedure I would like to mention that there is an additional step 3a, which is to shred all the binned paper and convert into paper bricks; we managed to get many night’s worth of heating out of old mortgage statements and book drafts.

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