Before getting into this month’s article, a comment about last months, “We May Know What We Want to Do, But Do We Know What We Need To Do?”

I found “The Blog of Steve Schwartz” via an eNewsletter from Jeffrey Gitomer, noted author and sales coach, and one of the posts on the blog is titled, “No One Knows What the ______ They’re Doing (or, the 3 Types of Knowledge).”  Although the language is a little vulgar, the following pie chart is highlighted:

The green slice shows “What we know.”  The blue slice shows “What we know we don’t know.”  The red slice, however, shows “What we don’t know we don’t know.”  This chart, the article continues, is not drawn to scale. “The red slice is unimaginably large.”

I also recently saw a television program which discussed the theory of “Dark Matter.”  It seems that of all the matter in the universe, biological matter would mirror that green slice, while other types of physical matter (that which is made up of protons, neutrons and electrons) are akin to the blue slice, and that means that the remaining “space” throughout the universe is made up of what physicists refer to as “Dark Matter.”

The thought that we don’t know incredibly more than what we do know is echoed in a poem by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called “The Unknown,” as well as the Dunning-Kruger Effect, where individuals unknowingly reach erroneous conclusions while not recognizing their error.

That brought to mind the Johnny Cash song, “What is Truth?”  And that brings us to this week’s “truth.”

Perhaps you’ve embarked on a project to rid yourself of paper by scanning all your important documents and shredding the paper.  It was one of my new year’s resolutions several years ago.  To facilitate this project, I purchased a ScanSnap scanner.

Now, rather than piles of stuff, I had piles of stuff that need to be scanned.  I also had folders of stuff that need to be scanned.  I still have a number of “Note” or “Do” apps on my mobile device, and still have 6 paper sources of notes: a notebook for meeting notes, a folio for work items that need to travel with me for customer and potential customer visits, a multi-section notebook for special projects (like music and the non-profit all-volunteer fund my wife and I began almost 15 years ago), a notebook for building a business I’ll be working on when I retire from my full-time job, a notebook that houses everything I used to keep on index cards, and a small book for notes that deal with my work activities that aren’t “customer-focused.”

I’ve discovered that scanner work wonderfully with computers…which is great – as long as you’re tied to your computer and have a great methodology for filing documents and other files.  Just yesterday, I was looking for a photo to use as a virtual meeting background, and it took me a little over an hour to find it!

Writing notes also helps me to remember them, whereas typing them on a computer or a keyboard for an iPad or iPhone doesn’t.  There is definitely a connection between the action of physically writing things down and the ability to remember them.

I discovered some time ago that organization is not one of my 5 most significant strengths…although I still consider myself to be an organized person. Unfortunately for me, “filing” something is the equivalent of storing it away for archival purposes. If there’s a chance that I will need to access it, then it has to remain accessible…which is why my computer Desktop is always filled with icons too. If something goes into the “My Documents” file, it might as well be put into a safe deposit box since the Microsoft “Search” function is pretty useless – unless every document is one big folder with no sub-folders (which, interestingly, is how they were designed to function.  Remember when file names could only have 8 characters?).

The interesting thing is that when I was involved in Advancement in a full-time capacity, I needed to be able to lay my hands on completely different sets of files and work tasks pertaining to the elements of Advancement in an instant. I could be working on enrollment tasks, and then receive a phone call from a prospective donor who wanted information on participating in our State’s tax credit program. Realizing that Advancement is the equivalent of doing 5 jobs at once, it could have made sense to have 5 completely different desks in one office, with each one focused on one of the elements of Advancement.

Advancement requires organization, so an assistant may be necessary to assist with your filing. Make sure, however, they assist, and are able to access documents, rather than simply “file” them. There’s nothing worse than needing to lay your hands on materials that may have been filed by an assistant according to their system when they’re not in the office.  Since you can’t work on one thing at a time on a regular basis, you may have to have a few piles within arm’s reach.

Today’s technology is assisting workplace collaboration, as many applications today speak to the benefit of document sharing.  Even with the collaborative tools technology offers, it is of primary importance for the team to first and foremost have a shared understanding of the “filing” system.  Just as an agreed-upon method of filing documentation was important for the paper filing cabinet, the concept it still a priori for electronic document handling.  Then you might be able to have a clean desk…at least for a day.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2012-2023