Reference List - Retaining it forever, or within a limited period of time?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Jan Ernest, Jun 23, 2017.

  1. Jan Ernest

    Jan Ernest Registered

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    In our Country, documents must be retained between 5-10 Years as per requirement of Government. This is so in case any public document needs to be referred to, we do not make the mistake of purging or disposing them within their usable life.

    In Getting Things Done methodology, do we also suggest in retaining them (References) that way or do we have to retain them for life? What is a sensible way to doing this?
     
  2. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Keep the reference for as long as you need to.

    I have email messages that are over 25 years old that I keep for reference. I have files of stuff I inherited that are still useful that are over 40 years old. We also have regulations on how long to keep things like tax documents. So I'd think through and keep reference material as long as it's still useful for reference or whatever legal requirements you have whichever is longer. That might only be for a few months in some cases and it might be for decades in others. Only you can decide how long something is useful for reference.
     
  3. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    Retain what you think is still valuable, within legal guidelines and space available. David Allen suggests two stances: "If in doubt throw it out or if in doubt keep it." Personally I tend to pitch paper if in doubt and keep digital.
     
  4. Jan Ernest

    Jan Ernest Registered

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    Great advice. Since I use EN (Digital) to store all my thoughts, and references, and can also scan hard documents - I reckon that I can keep them for awhile, even if the reference folders may seem to exponentially increase over time.

    Thanks man! :D
     
  5. Jan Ernest

    Jan Ernest Registered

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    25 Years Old Emails, and 40 Years Old stuff. Really? Wow! I wonder how you're able to sift through those references. But I like the idea of long term storage, maybe so long as I can immediately without delay or inconvenience, go back to specific stuff through those references then storing them for years should not be a problem. Since currently I am on digital means, then it should be easier to do just that.

    Great advice! Thank you Ma'am! :D
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2017
  6. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Actually in honesty some of it is older. Key is a clean strictly alphabetical filing system and if I think I'll look for something in 2 or more files I put references in each one. That's for physical papers.

    Electronic is also sorted both by subject in a folder that sorts automatically by name so also alphabetical and occasionally by decade or other reasonable time period. So for example I have Correspondence_Personal-2016 for items that came in that year. For some it's a larger chunk of time for example Correspondence_TDRC-1800s , Correspondence_TDRC-1900-1909 and so on. Those are for scanned versions of original documents and the paper versions are also kept in a safe.

    I just a few months ago had to go back to the original documents from 1884 to trace a water right question. I found the appropriate document in less than a minute but it took me several hours to decipher the old handwritten script and make a transcription in typed format. Whole thing then went off to 2 different people for verification of my transcript. The entire mess is likely to end up in Water Court so it's important to be accurate and to maintain the history.

    And for the record I'm not a sir :)
     
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  7. Jan Ernest

    Jan Ernest Registered

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    Deep thoughts coming in here. Thank you for sharing your method. and I also would like to apologize for calling you Sir. I did not notice the profile picture as I was concentrating on reading the wisdom here.

    Again thank you :D
     
  8. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    What about file formats? Often e-mail clients cannot export plain text file(s) of the whole e-mail repository. And there's an issue of WordPerfect, Lotus 123 etc. attachments...
     
  9. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    All attachments are downloaded and processed separately. I do file conversions upon receipt of anything that is not an immediate delete, which means basically nearly everything. Spam of course gets trashed plus any attachments.

    Whenever I move machines, operating systems or applications or install new versions and before any major upgrades I convert all the old files to the newest or latest format. It actually doesn't take all that long. The only ones that are nearly lost are some Compuserve forum threads. I have them as straight text files that are not threaded so they are somewhat painful to search through but not impossible. The files also had a lot of trash in them, special characters and such so it's not a great copy if the messages but adequate for the topics and source.

    I also do a full additional backup of all messages of my entire e-mail setup into MailSteward as my 4th level backup. First is hourly Time Machine Backups that alternate between an external drive and a RAID server, second is a nightly bootable backups of my entire computer system, third is a rotating monthly backup of my entire system that includes at least one copy that is located in another city. Both of those are stored in fireproof media rated safes.
     
  10. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    From David Allen's "Getting Things Done", a book I highly recommend (p.102 ye olde edition):

    Purge Your Files at Least Once a Year Cleaning house in your files
    regularly keeps them from going stale and seeming like a black
    hole, and it also gives you the freedom to keep anything on a
    whim "in case you might need it." You know everything will be
    reassessed within a few months anyway, and you can redecide
    then what's worth keeping and what isn't. As I say, I purge my
    files while I'm on hold on the phone (or marking time on a con-
    ference call that's dragging on and on!).
    I recommend that all organizations (if they don't have one
    already) establish a Dumpster Day, when all employees get to
    come to work in sneakers and jeans, put their phones on do-not-
    disturb, and get current with all their stored stuff.* Dumpsters are
    brought in, and everyone has permission to spend the whole day
    in purge mode. A personal Dumpster Day is an ideal thing to put
    into your tickler file, either during the holidays, at year's end, or
    around early-spring tax-preparation time, when you might want
    to tie it in with archiving the previous year's financial files.
     
  11. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    So for example for each non-spam email you immediately save this email body as a plain or html text file in an appropriate folder and you also save all the attachements optionaly converting them to the file format which has the longest life expectancy?
    It is a lot of work during the inbox processing!
     
  12. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Most of it is done with scripts and programs. For example I don't deal with the individual messages at all, that's all handled automatically. I do verify the backups couple of times a year and of course the message database gets converted when I change computers or operating systems but that's once every 5-7 years so not a big deal.

    Attachments have to be handled anyway during processing so again, not a big deal.

    Most of the spam is sorted into a folder that I check (I get lots of false positives in my spam checker) but again, it's a quick scan and I can delete those. I actually empty the deleted messages once a month during my regular monthly file cleanup. That's also when I catch any attachments that escaped processing earlier. Usually the only change I make is to change the filename to match my filename conventions. Any conversions have usually already been done but if I need to I will do them then. I haven't had to do any file conversions outside normal processing yet this year. First off I rarely get that many attachments and when I do get them they are important and so I have to deal with them as part of some ongoing project.
     
  13. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I've found that waiting until year end means the job is too big. I've now added purging files to my regular solstice reviews. I'm already changing a lot of what I do then, swapping out active projects for someday/maybe and vice versa due to the changing seasons so it's a good time to purge the files related to that season as well as some of the other reference files. Right now I'm also trying to scan to digital many of the hard copy reference files and making them searchable on-line that way.
     

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