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Dipesh Majumdar

Blog and Paintings

Data management

January 19, 2012

There is a plethora of data that has to be preserved and protected. How do you protect your data?

Do you maintain excel sheets or upload everything in google docs? Or do you write everything in your diary? And what about storing our certificates? They range from our birth certificate to a merit of appreciation we received a few months back at work or a recent certification we cleared. Between these two extremes there are so many paper receipts, bills, prescriptions, tax filing documents and so on.
 
We have 7 to 8 files (physical files not computer files) at home on an old shelf, crammed with data - some critical while others not so. Some even useless data, like a credit card statement two years back in one folder pocket sandwiched between degree certificate and offer of employment of second company. Suddenly we realize that the first offer of employment is completely missing. We try to trace it but give in soon. Sometimes we are so frustrated with all these data and we leave the files lying there for years together unattended and neglected, until forced by urgency - a relocation, a need to furnish documents and certificates for a job interview or an application for a new internet connection. This sudden demand sees us rummaging through files, turning away pages after pages in the hope of finding that ever illusive document. And more often than not, having scanned through all the files and feeling exhausted, we stand scratching our head, feeling disgusted and cursing the hell out of ourselves- “Why are we so unsystematic?” A pledge ensues – “The next step is to organize all my data no matter what!”

Don’t worry much. We have to devote some time to data management. We have to plan, organize and then act on those plans. The objective is not only to store all our invaluable data but also to be able to come up with the right data whenever needed.

So, the solution can be indexing. Have you seen a diary with the right hand side edge displaying Jan, Feb, Mar - the months of a year sequentially. You want to go to september, you dont start searching the pages. You can touch the september section and go directly to that month! That is fast, and more important smart! And once you jump into September, the days of that month are numbered in an ascending manner. That is what indexing is all about. It saves time and effort.

How will you design your index? How will you decide what goes into the index? For a diary, it is name of the months. And for you then, it should be based on that you are searching right? Doesn’t that make sense? So for example, if it is PAN Card, it should belong to letter P. If it is userid and password of makeymytripDOTcom, it should belong to 'M'.

The answer is 'No'. PAN card will first fall into the category - 'Identity related' and then inside that category it will fall under letter 'P'. Similarly 'MakemyTrip.com' user ID and password will first fall under category - 'Bank, Credit Cards and Accounts' and then mapped with letter 'M'.

The answer is 'No'. PAN card will first fall into the category - 'Identity related' and then inside that category it will fall under letter 'P'. Similarly 'MakemyTrip.com' user ID and password will first fall under category - 'Bank, Credit Cards and Accounts' and then mapped with letter 'M'.
 
So before indexing we have data categorization. All your data will fall under the following categories as mentioned below:
 
Data categorization -

1. Certificates
     school, college, company – joining letter, relieving letter, accolades, appreciation certificates
2. Identity related
    Birth, Death, Marriage, Passports, Visa-related documents, PAN Card, Driving Licence, Company  ID Card xerox copy.
3. Bank, credit card and Accounts
     hdfc, icici
4. Income Tax
    PAN Card Xerox copy, yearwise income tax filing data, userid and password of your e-filing website
5. EPF and Insurance
    EPF docs, Life Insurance,  Vehicle Insurance.
6. Bills and Loans
    landline
    mobile
    House Rent
    Medical bills - we need to furnish this to reduce tax liability.
    House Loan documents - we need to furnish this to reduce tax liability.
7. Property – sale deed, khata transfer
8. Miscellaneous Data and Information
9. Official
    Payslips, offer letters relieving letters, Current Resume, Appreciations, Project wise data.
10. vehicle
    RC Book, Servicing data and receipts starting from the purchase of each vehicle
11. Medical
    Spouse, Kid, My data

12. Receipts
 
So here is what you have to do. Follow a two step process –

Step 1 -
First begin by erasing the 12 months from the righthand side index of your diary with a white marker. Then Categorize them – 1 to 12.  These numbers map with the 12 categories as explained above. Keep a screenshot of the mapping of categories with the numbers at the front cover of the Diary. For a particular category all pages should be numbered alphabetically from A to Z. This step1 can also be substituted with an excel sheet instead of a diary. But I personally prefer a diary which you can touch and feel. I don’t like to look at the monitor for too long. And I don’t like preserving my data in excel sheets.
 
Step 2-
Each of these 12 categories should have a 1 to 1 mapping with 12 physical files with 60 or 100 pockets. And if one file is not enough for each category, say category 1, then two or three files can be kept. And then the files will be named as 1a, 1b, 1c. Now you should manually write the page numbers of the file pockets with a permanent and striking marker. And this should be done for all files, i.e, all files should have page numbers. And now keep these files ( 1 to 12) in a book shelf at a minimum of 5 feet height. Remember that these files contain all your physical data and the entry of this data is made in the diary

Now imagine this – You get a notice from ICICI bank that the home loan interest gets increased from 13.8 % to 14.7% with effect from 12.1.2012. You can immediately put this letter in the proper place. Which is the place? File matching with - Category 6, sub-category : house loan documents. Also note down this file entry with proper page no. of the physical file in the diary corresponding to category 6 and alphabet ‘I’. After 3 years of this incident when you will search for an ICICI bank data for your property, you will look at the diary with category 6 and starting with ‘I’. You will get the data immediately. Well, isn’t that smart?

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