Chapter 7 Outline

Chapter 7: Organizing Your Records and Documentation

Chapter 7 Outline: Download Word Document

Chapter 7 Outline: Download PDF


Keeping track of your personal life through written documentation and an organized filing system can save time and frustration, as well as help you remember important events in your past. This chapter will help you learn to organize personal data.

I. Personal Record Keeping

Many papers we receive, though some seem like junk, are important and must be a part of your personal record keeping.

a. Why Keep Track? Documenting important data can prevent confusion or conflict later. There is an abundance of information that should be kept in an organized manner and the following tips can help you get started.

i. First things first: get organized! Organize filing folders by months with the following titles.

1. Utilities. Put each month’s utility bill into a folder after it is paid.

2. Rent or Mortgage. Each month’s statement and all receipts should go into this file.

3. Auto Insurance. Keep policies and each month’s statement in this file.

4. Credit card bills. Keep receipts and the dates of when you paid the bill in a folder.

5. Bank statements. Keep bank statements in case of discrepancy with your bank.

6. Tax records. Keep all tax documents in this folder to make tax season easier.

7. Family records. Keep a folder for each member of the family to hold all important documents. For college transcripts, the FERPA protects the privacy of education records.

8. Use your computer. Create a Vital Information spreadsheet in excel for all account information. Set a password for this document.

9. Make a video or photo record. Take pictures of your belongings for insurance purposes.

b. Recording Your Private Life and Thoughts. Writing down daily life can help solve problems, keep you goal oriented, remember important details and resolve conflicts. There are different ways of journaling your personal life. You can keep a diary by your bed with pen and paper, use a calendar to jot down activities or journal using your computer.

c. Why Journal? Writing down your thoughts creates a physical release by clearing your mind and putting the worries in your head down onto paper. Here are the top ten benefits to journaling.

i. Reduces scatter in your life

ii. Maintains your focus

iii. Releases pent-up thoughts and emotions

iv. Holds thoughts still so they can be changed and integrated

v. Allows you to re-experience the past with today’s adult mind

vi. Exercises your mental muscle

vii. Plants seeds of creativity and development

viii. Erases decision making

ix. Offers new solutions as you develop your thoughts

x. Reveals and tracks patterns

d. What is Blogging? A blog can contain a person’s opinions about and experiences with products, current events or educational concepts. Some blogs are mainly an online diary. Social Networking Sites (SNS) offer blogging, but there are a few things to keep in mind if using a SNS.

i. Protect your privacy. Everything is open to the public so it is recommended to set privacy settings to friends only.

ii. Headhunters troll social networking sites for information on prospective employees. It will be tempting to blog about your weekend party, but be careful. Employees look at these Web sites and can be influenced in their hiring decisions.

Here are five Facebook don’ts.

1. Post pictures of drunken parties

2. Complain about current job, boss or colleagues

3. Details of romantic relations or gossip

4. Spend work time on Facebook

5. Everything posted on the internet can be found even after deletion

II. Educational Success Through Effective Documentation

Taking notes and journaling is basically mandatory in your educational career. It is proven that students who hear, see and write notes retain the information better. Although they know it is necessary, many college students are still unaware of how to take efficient notes.

a. Being Prepared. Make sure to bring your necessary materials to class. This includes paper, writing utensils, or a laptop.

b. Knowing What to Write. Notes do not need to contain all the information, just the important things. Focus on writing down the information that you did not already know and are unfamiliar with. Ask yourself the question, “What is new to me and what is relevant?” Pay special attention to the following.

i. Dates of events

ii. Names of people

iii. Theories

iv. Definitions

v. Arguments and debates

vi. Images and exercises

vii. Miscellaneous

viii. Your own questions

c. Organizing Your Information. There are several styles of note taking: formal outlining, informal outlining, and the Cornell method. The second half of taking notes is organizing the information so it can be easily accessed. Outlining is usually the easiest form of organization whether through bulleted points or ordinal numbers. Shorthand and common abbreviations will also come in handy. Below are also a few habits for success.

i. Go to class

ii. Go to class prepared

iii. Pay attention in class

iv. Use various colored pens for note taking

v. Rewrite or type your notes the same day you write them

d. Educational Journaling. Keeping an educational journal can help you gain insight, further apply your knowledge, track progress and work toward your goals of graduation. When grasping a difficult concept, write about the process of learning it. Specifically journal in the area of your major in order to record your growth of understanding and will help you in professional development.

III. Getting It “Write” in Your Professional Life

Note taking and documentation will also be very prevalent in your professional life. The following four circumstances will require note taking.

1. Business and management meetings

2. Project documentation

3. Career recognition through publication

4. Professional blogging

b. Social and Professional Networking for Career Growth: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Bad press exists about SNS, but they do have redeeming qualities such as networking and searching for new job opportunities. It is suggested to have two accounts, one for personal life and one for professional life.

i. A professional profile:

1. Show full name, job history and schooling

2. Only work related email accounts

3. Only industry contacts as friends

4. Join networks related to only school and work

5. One professional photo

ii. A personal/private profile:

1. First name/nickname and last initial

2. Don’t join networks related to school or work

3. Don’t list work experience

4. Don’t use work e-mail addresses

5. Do whatever you want with it

c. Alternative Social Networking Sites. There are alternative professional sites that do not include Facebook or MySpace. There are even sites related directly to your field. Joining a SNS will give you the opportunity to network and build job opportunities while also practice blogging skills. Twenty-four SNS sites are listed on these pages.

In Brief

Everyone will need to know how to accurately take notes, keep records and report writing during their lives.