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Filing is not my thing!


Jacqueline
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Can anyone advise please? I have a very large amount of paperwork, including hundreds of pages of statements, handwritten notes etc, relating to a legal matter which is now long over with, but nevertheless remains potentially sensitive for those involved. It is legally my property and so presumably I can do as I like with it. Just throwing it all away is not an option.

It was stored in several large, dust collecting boxes and shunted from cupboard to cupboard over many years, until I decided to get a grip and try and reduce the amount.

I discovered that much of it is duplicated and could probably be destroyed but the task of going through it and assembling some sort of order is mind numbing and I just give up. The result is now that it is even more of a muddle and currently housed in a bumper sized box that I can't get off the ground. 

My question is how does one go about finding somebody - possibly an experienced/retired person - who could just work their way through the whole lot and leave me with a coherent set of paperwork, a pile of stuff to shred or otherwise destroy and who I could trust to be totally discrete.

Obviously I would be prepared to pay the going rate, if there is such a thing. Within reason, it would be worth it just to get the job done once and for all. I suppose for somebody who can find order in chaos, it would be little more than a massive filing job. I am just not sure how to find that person.

 

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Maybe if you place an ad in your local newspaper asking for someone with secretarial and filing experience and saying the work would suit a retired person? Stress that the person would need to be discreet as confidentiality was a very important aspect of the job.

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Maybe a medical or legal secretary? Would be used to confidentiality.

 

Maybe search online to see if any are advertising for work? Or if you know someone who works in either type of place?

 

If you were prepared to say roughly where you live you may find someone here?

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Things to consider would be whether someone with professional indemnity insurance is needed seeing as it sounds relatively important in that if there was any comeback, it might have a financial obligation.

 

If not then purely sorting, scanning and filing electronically might be a solution with the information saved to an external portable drive.

 

You can store the documents securely depending in their importance with a document storage organisation but you might split the documents out for secure storage or those than might just have electronic copy.

 

Most documents are acceptable as electronic now rather than originals so this could reduce the amount that actually needs to be stored.

 

I do 'virtual assistant' type work in my day job so happy to advise.

 

A scanner with a page feeder could be very useful if you just want to scan yourself :)

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Many thanks for the replies. I also received a personal message from a forum member with a kind offer of help. At the moment, I am waiting to hear from a local company that does scanning and putting things onto disks. Being something of a computer Luddite, I don't know how to do this myself, but the thought of scanning every page is a non starter. There is just so much of it. I don't know if you scan everything and the computer then indicates which bits are duplicated or if you are meant to sort it all out before hand and just scan what you want? Either way would be extremely time consuming and I imagine expensive.

As for finding somebody to do it for me, I am advised to advertise or see if anyone is out there looking for this type of work. Then if somebody materialises, to arrange to meet them on neutral ground and ask for work references and so on. I just don't fancy a complete stranger coming to my house so I would probably have to arrange another neutral ground for them to work in. Then you get into insurance and various problems.

All in all, I think I am going to have just get on with it myself. It is only laziness that is stopping me. If we move this year, as I am hoping, I do not want to be carting that enormous, heavy box to yet another location. If I could just reduce it by at least half, that would be enough for now.

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There are a number of companies who will scan all your documentation onto disc or USB for you.  It may cost you a few pounds but they are relatively cheap and highly confidential.  Many scan for banks and insurance companies so they have strict data protection policies.  Plus the scanners are industrial so the staff don't actually read the documentation, just stuff them through and then check that each page has scanned properly.  

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Do you have any young relatives or friends who would help you out for a small fee? I think that your starting point would be to arrange the documents in date order and destroy all duplicates. Putting documents in date order is a relatively straightforward, although time-consuming, task for a young person. S/he would not destroy any documents. That would be down to you to do once you had checked the documents. If there are many duplicates then getting rid of them will reduce the volume of documents considerably.

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Well, I have an appointment tomorrow at the scanning company so will see how that turns out. Apparently,' the computer says no' to sorting out the duplicated stuff for me. It just scans everything regardless of how many times it gets the same pages. Fair enough. The upshot of that is that I can pay somebody for the time consuming task of doing what I could do myself for nothing. 

If I can apply myself, as SarahW suggests, to do a little bit at a time, I can then see what sort of quantity I am left with and what best to do with it.

Alternatively, I could find a nice big, industrial size shredding machine and lob the whole lot in. To hell with it. :angry:

Just out of personal interest and off topic, my number of posts seems to be stuck at 199? I have posted a few times since reaching that number but the needle seems to have got stuck. 

Edited to say that all my three posts on this topic are showing at 199?

Edited by Jacqueline
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Jacqueline, all your posts will always show your total number of posts: try posting another one, and they should all go up to 200.

I've had a quick look back and I noticed that the number of times I had posted actually stood at 199 as far back as last May 2015 (on the Woolf Works thread) and possibly beyond. I have posted numerous times since then so the tally should be way over 200 by now and yet it still stands at 199. I will post this and see if it makes any difference. 

Edited to say still at 199! Am I missing something here?

Edited by Jacqueline
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I misunderstood what Alison said. It doesn't matter how far back I look, the number of posts will always show as the current total, even if I go back to the very first one. D'Oh! I shouldn't post before I am fully awake! In the meantime, I am still in 199 limbo!

As for the scanners, they told me it would cost 3p per sheet scanned and I have to do it myself, using their equipment. They don't 'sort out' legal paperwork because although throwing anything away would ultimately be down to me, they are not qualified to read through it all and make a definitive decision as to what is fully duplicated, what is partially duplicated or incomplete or whatever.Which is fair enough I suppose as they could be sued, unless there was some document drawn up regarding responsibility. In other words, it will be up to me to present them or somebody with the final version of what is to be scanned. I will take the compromise option, do the nitty gritty bit myself and then treat myself to the scanning as a reward.

Before I bore everyone to death with this saga - although it may already be too late! - I have taken the first step, lifted the lid off the big box and replaced the  contents on the floor.  One day at a time! :wacko:

Edited by Jacqueline
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Does it matter if it's duplicated? If you're just scanning to free up storage and not likely to have to use the electronic documents scanned very often then it might be the best option to just scan the whole lot as it is and accept that there are duplications if you have to refer it later. I'm thinking its best to have it all rather than worry something is missing. It will save on costs doing the document indexing too.

 

If you want info or characters read then it's technology called OCR or optical character recognition but I don't think that's appropriate from how you've described things

 

You need to think how you want it stored ie; what image format and whether cloud or hard drive and I would recommend two hard drive or external drive locations in case one ever becomes corrupt

 

Hope that helps :)

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this doesn't help with wasting money scanning duplicates, but once it's all scanned you can easily find and remove duplicates - your scans will be images and there are free apps available that go through a photo collection spotting and removing duplicates.

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You must keep us informed. I love declutter ing and doing it my proxy is nearly as good!!!

Progress report!! er, none. Not a jot thereof.  :rolleyes:

 I also love decluttering and generally chucking out that which is not nailed down. But for some reason, I have a real block with this. It is just so boring as a task but when I start looking at the paperwork, I sort of get into reading through it again, remembering those times and all the work that went into them.

I have divided the loose papers into eight knee high piles. So I am aiming at a pile a week. Starting next week. Maybe.

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For me, it's paperwork (mailings, bills, receipts etc) which I find hard to keep on top of. I'm never quite sure what to keep and what to throw away. Any bank accounts, utility contracts, insurances and investments produce large amounts of correspondence and documentation which have to be considered and either filed or disposed of.

 

I also have all my mother's financial paperwork as well because my siblings and I manage her financial affairs. My late father seemed to keep every financial document they ever had (very orderly, it has to be said) and my husband and I have had to ruthlessly prune this paperwork down to a manageable amount. My father was a scientist and published a lot of papers and last year, as part of the ongoing process of sorting out my parents possessions, I threw out a couple of hundred off cuts, keeping one of each paper as a record, plus a lot of scientific 'workings' and diagrams and several proofs with my father's corrections.

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I don't feel guilt as such because I have actually kept quite a lot of my parents' possessions. It's nearly three years since my mother moved into a home and we had to clear the house which my parents had lived in for 50 years and I am still whittling down the stuff which I brought to my home in 30 plus boxes. Part of the problem was that my sister lives abroad and, for reasons known to herself, did not come over when the house was cleared and so I brought back anything which I thought she might want. I won't go into it, but my sister finally decided what she wanted when she came over last summer and this has freed me to get rid of whatever I want.

 

What I do find difficult is just throwing things out (I'm not talking about paperwork and scientific papers). My parents were very frugal and they never just went out and bought something. They would generally look at something in the shop (eg a decanter), come home and think about it and then perhaps return to the shop to buy it another day. I do of course try to give things to charity but things can be quite difficult to get rid of. Charity shops are quite choosy, and I don't want to burden them with a lot of stuff they can't sell. Luckily, my friend often has a table at fairs and table sales to raise money for charity and she has managed to sell some of my stuff. However, currently there isn't much of a market for glass decanters and old vases!

Edited by aileen
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  • 1 year later...

Well, I finally did it. The paperwork is sorted and the pile is reduced to one one knee high stack, so the big box is now empty and ready to be filled with something else. Or not.

I haven't taken a year to get the job done, just the last week! I had taken everything out of the box and put it all back in again. I then tried sorting it by how much I could reasonably pick up, a handful or whatever. I made excuses. I put the lid back on and cushions on top.

This weekend, the sun came out and spring cleaning commenced. The lid came off, all contents were removed and I started sorting with a vengence. I have just read a novel about a woman who acquired a lot of old paperwork all in a muddle as part of a case she was reinvestigating. I took my cue from her method of ordering. I have been quite brutal in the clearance and dispassionate, in that I have not allowed myself to get distracted by reading through everything.

Anyway, it is done and I am relieved. I did find some old statements which I must have seen before but forgotten. Reading them again has given me an idea for a book. To my mind there is a story to be told, possibly even a film. Only the names, dates and any other facts would have to be changed. But that's hardly a new concept.

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