June 16, 2015

Le Morte du Paper Files

When I started my consulting practice way back in 1995 (coming up on the 20th anniversary in December), I mirrored my corporate office / consulting practice for my home office / small business. When I last worked in corporate America (Philips Medical Systems), email was a new phenomena - I guess I had an email account, but it was mostly an in-house thing - the web was pretty thin, and most everything I did was via US mail and hard-copies.

A good part of my job at Philips was collecting information for obscure bits of technology, products, or technical solutions that I would reference, reproduce, and distribute as needed to international contacts, field service engineers, and management. So when I started my business, I found a used filing cabinet, and filled it with folders, like the one I left in my corporate office.

I had a lot of file folder categories:
  • Medical imaging OEMs (my primary client base) 
  • Tools and test equipment manufacturers (I used, and consulted on, various meters, loggers, and other test equipment)
  • Power conditioning technologies and specific manufacturers (things like surge suppressors, UPS systems, voltage regulators, transformers, and filters) 
  • Customer projects (perhaps 20-30 projects for my principal clients, over many years)
  • Business projects - advertising, marketing, registration, professional organizations, etc.
  • Personal files - credit, utilities, financial, insurance, etc.
It's been a good file cabinet - rugged, roller bearings, solid. Also, heavy as hell - I've moved it 4 times (Waterbury home office to Newington office space to Hartford home office to Newington office space to New Britain home office) plus a few trips up and down the stairs in Waterbury as my office moved. But somewhere along the line I did a paper purge; the files have been sitting empty for years, and it's been opened in recent memory only to search for art / office supplies in the single drawer I used to store my office supplies. So today was the day I decided to ditch the filing cabinet.

I pulled out 220 mainly empty file folders from the drawers: 
  • 111 Dark Green
  • 66 Tan 
  • 20 Red
  • 14 Blue
  • 9 extra wide / thick Dark Green
There's am 8" stack of mostly personal files (bills, insurance, etc. from 2006-2007 that somehow escaped disposal / filing in my annual tax boxes; I'll go through those at some point.  And there were a matching number of folder tags, which I removed from the folders, and am tasked with removing the slide-in labels.

I've got the cabinet up on Craigs List (Free!) and it will probably be gone tomorrow - I'll give away the hanging files and tabs as well if anyone will have them.

End of an era, I guess.  It's been a little bit nostalgic going through this today; old clients, old projects, an age when I was not sure what type of paying work I would find so I collected everything and anything. An age when a technical inquiry would involve a phone call, and result in a few faxed pages copied from a manual, or a thick envelope in the mail with the latest catalog. Today, it's all up and online, or perhaps an email and a PDF document away.

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