What do you do when you’ve got too much?

Schools and businesses are starting to give themselves more space by getting rid of the filing cabinets.  But where does the paperwork go?

I hadn’t realised this at first, but it seems that slowly the NHS has gone paperless.   Patient records and reports between hospitals, clinics and surgeries have been scanned and logged.

Yes, the GP will still give you a piece of paper to take to the chemist, but even that is due to go soon.

But, on the other hand, school offices most certainly haven’t gone paperless.  Which is a shame because if you have peeked inside a school office in the last few years you might well find that even if it is in one of the schools rebuilt under Tony Blair’s Building Schools for the Future scheme, the school office area is still likely to be woefully inadequate.  Not in every case of course, but quite often.

Which means that an office that ought to be able to accommodate four people can actually only hold two, because there is a filing cabinet against every wall – a cabinet that not only occupies space on the ground, but also needs space in front of it to enable the drawers to open and for the administrator to stand in to find files.

This is actually quite dangerous because the cabinets are (obviously) packed with paper. Now although it is true that paper packed tightly together doesn’t combust nearly so easily as individual sheets, the fact is that most fires in schools are started by intruders (usually ex-pupils) who don’t think of starting a fire until they are actually in the school. They then use such combustible material as they can find.

The problem for the school then is not only that the school burns, but with it go its records.  If only they had scanned in all the documents, they would then have them not only encrypted on the school’s own server, but also on one or two off site servers by way of backup.

However, I can now say that the move towards regularising this position is underway, and some schools – at least around my area – are starting to clear filing cabinets one by one, and scan in their records.

As the process develops the old filing cabinets are emptied into boxes, and the boxes are brought to Admiral for storage.

Of course, it could be argued that the school is now taking up the same amount of space but just elsewhere, so I asked one of the school managers involved exactly how the process is working.

He said, “We realised we had to do something about the office space, and we’ve seen other schools adopting this scheme, so we drew up proposals.

“But when they went to the governors there was a problem – they came up with every objection under the sun.  They were concerned about security, about losing files, one of them even said (with a smug grin on his face) ‘what will you do in a power cut?’

“I told him, if the power went off, we’d have to leave the school, so whether we had records in the school or not would be neither here nor there, but he just shook his head, mumbled about the process being ‘too risky’ and that he would vote against.

“So we just kept coming back to the issue of not having enough room, and eventually we did get the governors to agree – but only on the grounds that we kept all the paper records off site for another five years.”

And that is how they have ended up with Admiral.

Of course, this is not a problem for us. As the school works through its records it scans and then removes more and more pieces of paper, and every couple of weeks another box or two comes over to us.

I’m happy to store the materials, and I gather the school administrators have never been happier.

If you are in the Midlands and have materials to store, please do get in touch so that we can help.  I can’t help you find the right scanner, nor can I help you convince the governors, but I can most certainly hold the old files for a few years, until you know the scanning system is indeed working.

You can find more information on our facilities on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.uk. Alternatively you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage Ltd
Bloxwich Lane
Walsall
WS2 8TF
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@archive-document-storage.co.uk

www.archive-document-storage.co.uk

What is it that creative people do that gives them the constant flow of new ideas?

It is not surprising to find that some of the people who store paper in the Admiral Document Storage warehouse are highly creative for, as I have mentioned previously, people who create original work often like to keep their original notes.

Indeed, given that the original draft of Bob Dylan’s Times They Are A Changin’ sold in 2010 for half a million dollars, you can see the appeal of holding on to anything that might one day become famous.

When possible, I do try to grab a few words with such people, and of late I have been trying to get them to tell me what it is that makes them creative. How is it that they can come up with ideas for books, songs, films, dance steps, apps, programs, and children’s toys all day long, when I can’t?

Now I must admit that the answer that I often get when I ask creative people what it is that makes them creative can be very disappointing. The most common reply is, “I don’t know. I just do it.” Which by and large isn’t much help.

However, once or twice I have been given some real insight into the working of the creative person’s mind, and the information I’ve been given is, for me at least, very insightful.

For although the two people who gave me helpful information approached the topic in different ways, the particularly interesting fact that emerged is that these two visions are not contradictory. Indeed I suspect both are true, and in fact each flows into the other.

There is, it seems, a way of becoming creative.

So, if you fancy turning yourself into a highly creative person who can do (to quote Bob Dylan one more time) “what’s never been done”, then read on.

The underlying view is that if you want to be creative (no matter what the field) you have to practise being creative.

This makes a lot of sense to me. After all, when as a child I wanted learn how to swim (and then having got the basics I wanted to learn how to swim well) I practised. This wasn’t of my own volition, I must admit, because I was by and large much happier mucking about in the pool with my mates, but swimming was on the agenda so I practised, and got better at it.

Now most people don’t see any link between learning to swim well and being creative. But if you treat each of them as a skill, there is indeed just such a link. If you want to be creative, you have to practise being creative. It is as simple as that.

But how?

Now that is the interesting part. And, because I don’t want to keep you waiting, here are some just some of the techniques which I was told about, and which I am now using.

First I was told about using dreams as a source of creative ideas. What I had to do was to put a pen and notebook by my bedside and then, upon waking, write down whatever was in my head.

Despite feeling that I didn’t dream much I did it, and was surprised to see that after a week or so I was managing to jot down some fairly whacky scenarios every night. More alarmingly, after about a month I woke up one morning, looked at my notebook, and found half a page of moderately coherent notes seemingly from a dream. I had no memory of waking up. Creativity was becoming part of my existence.

Of course, some artists do use their dreams as a source of ideas, but that is not necessarily what this is about – for one doesn’t have to use the ideas. One is simply stimulating one’s creative activity.

The second part of the process is to deliberately go out and do things one doesn’t normally do. One of my informants told me that he and his wife had at one stage joined with three other couples, who each took it in turn to organise an afternoon or evening out for the group of them, doing something they enjoyed but which they expected the others would not normally do.

A trip to the opera, an afternoon on a ski slope, a visit to a football match, an evening learning some basic dance steps were all on the agenda.

Everyone was seriously challenged by at least a couple of the events, but everyone found the whole process really engaging and stimulating. And, he admitted, occasionally frightening!

The final part of the process involved taking something one knows about and then deliberately pushing the boundaries. This can be just getting in the car and driving to a village randomly selected on a map. For the dance enthusiast in the group it was once a month going to a club where he knew no one and spending an evening making friends, dancing with new partners. The football fan regularly sought out a ground he had never been to before – often hundreds of miles away.

In short, what these people who were interested in creativity were doing was endlessly challenging themselves to go beyond the boundaries of their normal safe world and try something or somewhere quite different. It didn’t have to have anything to do with their job or their particular area of expressing their creativity. They just challenged themselves.

Apparently people who do this love doing it. Seemingly it gives them more of a kick than any amount of alcohol could ever do and doesn’t come with the problem of drink-drive limits.

And most certainly, looking at what these people store at Admiral, it works. I don’t know if tucked among their writings, notes, photos, recordings and drawings is anything that will one day fetch a fortune at auction, but the lives these people have sure seems a lot more interesting than another night in watching TV.

You can find more information on our facilities on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.uk  Alternatively you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage Ltd
Bloxwich Lane
Walsall
WS2 8TF
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@archive-document-storage.co.uk

www.archive-document-storage.co.uk