8 Steps to Manage Personal Documents Efficiently

Every second counts. Quoting a cliché - time is money, and one is likely to keep losing much money rummaging through a haphazard pile of personal documents. Organizing documents in a way that preserves them and helps timely retrieval is a golden rule.

Here are some simple tips and procedures to efficiently manage your documents and personal records.

1. Collect and sort personal and family documents

Start by collecting the documents and arranging documents in some order, e.g., chronologically, family member wise, category wise.

2. Convert paper documents to digital files

Use a good quality scanner to scan all your documents one by one at 300 DPI colour. For most applications, documents scanned at 300 DPI are acceptable and offer a good balance between file size and quality.  Photos and phone scanners should be avoided.

3. Name the digital files appropriately and implement a file naming system

Name the scanned files correctly. Naming a file ‘abcd.pdf’ or ‘20112021.jpg’ does not tell anything about the file’s contents. For example, if you have scanned your birth certificate, a good name would be ‘Birth Certificate’ followed by your name. Locating and sharing a digital version of your birth certificate then becomes a matter of just a few clicks.

4. Subscribe to a secure cloud hosting service

Many reputable internet companies offer free and secure cloud storage. For personal use, the amount of space offered is often generous and enough.

Google Drive and OneDrive by Microsoft are two popular and reliable services. Their phone clients also allow these locations to remain accessible when on the move.

5. Create folders for each family member

Within the allocated cloud space, create folders for each family member and within those subfolders such as identification, educational, financial, employment etc. Then, copy or transfer the scanned and appropriately named files under suitable locations.

These cloud locations can also be shared with other family members.

6. Physical copies are as important

Maintaining digital copies of your important documents is a great time-saving idea. However, there will be situations where you may be required to provide the original copies. Using a good quality folder with sufficient sleaves should allow you to maintain the hard-earned originals safely and securely.

7. Maintain at least one offline backup

Internet companies offering free cloud spaces have reliable infrastructure and backup procedures to avoid data loss in the event of any unanticipated mishap.

It is still recommended to keep at least one copy of all your digital files in an offline location. I maintain three. We will cover backup policies in another blog later.

8. Assess retention periods and archive

Archiving is a good habit.

The word archive pertains to the retention of multiple records. Data that is archived might be needed as vital information in the future.

Specific files may only be retained for a fixed period and then securely archived. Some examples of such documents are bank or credit card statements, homeowner or car insurance policies.

Rather than permanently deleting these files, it is a good idea to move them to another folder labelled ‘Archives’.

Conclusion

Well done! Your documents are now organized using an efficient personal document management system and demonstrate how organized you are.  And, this saves time and effort.

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