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  • Writer's pictureCarla Webb

Digital Confusion

Digital transformation, transition, migration, conversion, digitizing, digitalizing, digital learning, digital teaching, technology enhanced learning, are you confused yet? I am.

These buzz words are part of everyday conversation today in offices, schools and homes and yet many of us are still not sure what it all means. There is no simple definition, but in a nutshell, the purpose of digitization is to make information more easily accessible, storable, maintainable, and shareable through the use of digital technology. What are the advantages? Once implemented effectively, digitization saves time and speeds up processes together with the obvious environmental advantages of reducing our impact on forests, emissions and waste.

Digitizing (I will stick to that one generic term) isn't going away. Just like we all sooner or later had to adapt to smartphones and apps, we will need to learn to cope with digitizing our lives sooner rather than later. When used properly, digitization can actively REDUCE screen time. Yup, if you don't have to search and hunt to find your data, you'll spend less time staring at those pesky screens.

Now, I love a folder, a good old fashioned ring binder with coloured dividers. Once or twice a year, I go through my stack of papers, hole punch and staple them then plop them in the appropriate section ready to be found easily if needed. Nothing more satisfying than being asked for your latest utility bill than to open that file, flick to the electricity section and boom there it is sitting on top ready to be photocopied or scanned and sent on. Only I don't get utility bills by post anymore. Like most of us, in an attempt to save the planet, I've opted for digital bills wherever possible. Consequently, at best they get shoved into an email folder and not always the right one, at worst they are buried beneath a few thousand emails in my inbox or deleted because I assumed it was spam.

So when I have to find that dreaded utility bill? It's a half hour of hell digging through email folders and mailboxes, guessing search criteria that might find the elusive email with the necessary attachment or hunting down long-forgotten passwords in order to login to various energy provider sites with illogical names.

There are many ways to digitize and it's important to find the way that works best for you. You can stick to email folders, but make sure they are organised logically for rapid searching. You can create folders in OneDrive or Dropbox or iCloud and store your documents by provider/year etc. Cloud solutions are great as they can be accessed from your phone/tablet or even on the web as well as always being available on your computer. Accidents can happen though, cloud data can be deleted by a kid playing with your phone so regular backups are indispensable as you never know when you might need that bill, document or receipt from a few years ago for an insurance claim.

We're constantly being asked for scans of our id's, bank details, driving licence or passports. It's tempting to just photograph them but that's not particularly secure. It's a great idea to have a separate folder in your cloud for these 'everyday scans' that can be accessed quickly and easily from your phone so that you can reply to any request for data in an instant from wherever you are.

It's also a good idea to digitize old paperwork. Go through those old folders, chuck (recycle!) the out of date paperwork, scan everything else and file it away in your cloud, home cloud, on a hard drive or whatever storage method you prefer. Far safer than having some dusty ring binder follow you from home to home to be stored in the cellar and risk being damaged.

Digital signatures are so handy. It's easy to create digital signatures now, then store them in an easy access folder and just copy paste them onto documents in an instant saving the laborious printing, signing, scanning and returning process.

If all this sounds like a lot of hard work, let me come and introduce you to the concept, set up a filing system that makes sense to you and create some documentation for you to follow when you need to do your filing or search for a document. It's a small learning curve but will save you so much time in the future.

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