I feel like this is a ‘Soennecken’ blog post. As mentioned in a previous blog post he invented the ring binder and the hole punch, two items mentioned in this blog post. Even though Soennecken is not very famous outside Germany they are still around and you can still buy their pencil and mechanical pencils.
Ok, on to the real blog post. I used to store all my bills, invoices and other important documents in folders / ring binders. This somehow, should I say because of my laziness, ended up in me collecting letters for weeks or months and then filing them away in one big session that involved lots of hole punching and sorting.
After the last ‘filing away session’ I was wondering why I go through all that effort if I hardly ever look up what I have filed away. If I change my energy supplier or switch to another credit card I will shred all the carefully sorted pages anyway, probably without ever having looked up a single document.
Wouldn’t a system be better where I can just drop’ documents, even if looking things up might take a bit longer?
That reminded me of a filing box I had seen in Aldi several weeks earlier, but I didn’t need one at the time. I remembered that they were cheap, made from metal and made in France. A quick look on the Internet made me find them online: These were filing boxes by Pierre Henry, a brand I wasn’t familiar with. Looking a bit more I found that these were just on offer at Staples. One A4 file box was only £12.49 (~$19.65; €17.60) (and still is).
Fast storage, slow retrieval
No hole punching involved. You just drop your documents in the right bit of your suspension files. It’s quicker, but if you want access to a specific document it takes a bit longer to get it out. It’s a bit like the good old magnetic core memory: storing information is quick, but retrieving information takes a bit longer – unlike my previous solution, ring binders, which are more like MiniDiscs: storing information is complicated, but reading it is easy …or to use a more stationery related analogy: it’s like cursive versus block letter: cursive is faster to write, but reading it takes longer.
For my purpose the file boxes came with a few, but not with enough suspension files. Staples’ suspension files were quite expensive, so I bought some from eBay instead. Unfortunately half of my order was the wrong size: foolscap instead of A4, but luckily the seller sent the right size after I contacted them. If you don’t live in a country where foolscap is being used you might have come across it in the Sherlock Holmes books. I think this is where I first came across it.
As mentioned earlier I bought the metal file boxes from Staples. They promised next day delivery to my local Staples, but somehow it was Monday before they arrived, not Saturday as promised.
So far I’m very happy with my new way of storing documents. I got a 30% off voucher from Staples after my first order. The voucher expires tomorrow. I wonder whether I should get some more metal file boxes.
Price and exchange rates: June 2015