The digital age has changed the way we manage information. Gone are the days when we could easily throw away things we didn’t need. It inevitably transformed how we store and dispose of items such that we maintain some sort of access in case the need arises.
Information can be classified many ways. There is the critical and the not-so-critical, personal and sensitive, information that you and your spouse probably only know, so on and so forth. Classification of information is important, including identification of the people allowed access. Once this is determined the next step would then be to organize, store and archive.
I prefer having access to information whenever and wherever I am. Over the years and with the help of technology I was able to come up with a framework to ensure that information acquired is readily accessed yet carefully stored and secured.
One’s personal information would be the baseline. This includes all kinds of certificates and identification: birth, baptismal, confirmation, marriage, diplomas, continuing education credits, government identification cards, etc. I consider these highly sensitive data, therefore handling is extremely important. A physical storage device can be used to keep hard copies (a safe, for example) that can then be stored somewhere at home (one can get very creative about this). You would also want to have soft copies that you can then burn to a CD stored somewhere and saved in a USB drive that goes with you wherever you are for easy access (make sure it is password protected). The software master copy should also be in your personal laptop (do not store this in your company-issued machine because these days employees give up their right to privacy once they use company resources) and yes, password protected and again stored someplace only you know.
Of course you would probably prefer to have access to the information over the cloud. As mentioned previously, Swiss-based Tresorit is a good subscription service that allows you to do this (the Swiss know their privacy laws all too well and will not at all share or sell your information).
Once you have this in place you’ll have to do it all over again at your preferred frequency.
I have a tendency to do this every yearend in a modern-day spring cleaning. Then when all is said and done, there is always the back-up of the back-up of the back-up. It really is a vicious cycle and it takes time to make the practice perfect.
Once the personal data is sorted it is time to move on to other things: properties and assets, liabilities, taxes, insurance policies, health records, other pursuits, etc. The list goes on and on. We are only talking about you, the individual. Once you have children, you will want to do the same for them as well.
Over time I’ve also developed the practice of separating professional and personal information. I was inspired when the Singapore government not too long ago started this practice, all the way from PM Lee down to the agencies. Simply put, they are not allowed to access personal email services (as an example, among other things) from a government-issued machine. It sounds tough when you think about it but I believe the habit formed from this practice will reap rewards in the long run. How does this translate to us citizens of the world? Just more devices and gadgets and a strong demarcation between our personal information and the information we acquire in the course of our professional lives.
The practice of classifying information, identifying ways of storing it and determining who has access is essentially a behavioral shift in more ways than one. While the traditional spring cleaning ideology does not require critical thinking twice, the modern-day version cautions us to keep it safe and not throw away.
A blessed 2018 to each one and all.
Kay Calpo Lugtu is an executive of a multinational business process outsourcing company. She is likewise the deputy director of Global Chamber Manila. Her advocacies include data privacy, financial literacy, and nation-building. The author may be reached at email@example.com or, to the more cautious now, at firstname.lastname@example.org