Although my job really starts on June 1, i had agreed to go in a day or 2 early, so that ended up as being yesterday. Of course there were no logins or computer available, so my new boss suggested I could review all the papers my predecessor had left.
Bearing in mind my last post about tidying up my desk, this seemed sort of ironic, as my predecessor had clearly been an obsessive filer of paper.
He had printed every email ever received and put each piece of paper in its own separate film sleeve and filed it. Chats from the internal messaging system had been printed out and filed. Scraps of notes, scribbles, everything.
There were 8 binders full, each with a number on the binder and on each film sleeve was taped a post it with another number, sometimes with some words.There were around 6 piles of papers not in binders. There was no system. The folders were just filled in apparently random order, but could have been date order i suppose. Papers related to the same topic appeared in different folders.
I have never seen such a “system” and I hope never to see such a system again. I guess it was good he was only with the company for 9 months, otherwise there would have been more to plough through.
I reviewed all the folders and threw a lot of stuff out. Some of the stuff was useful, and this i kept but put like with like and labelled the folders. One folder consisted of emails that the predecessor to my predecessor had written on one subject. Every part of the email chain had been separately printed out and put in a sleeve to file. The final email however contained the whole chain, so that i kept, the rest i removed from the sleeves and threw in the paper recycling.
So much paper, so many plastic sleeves, it was incredible.
One email contained 14 sides of the names of the people in the address fields, and 2 lines of text, i kid you not. Another was totally in Chinese, and as my predecessor was as western as I, I doubt he understood it.
By the end of the day I had a headache and still several piles to go through. Still I left my desk empty, and have just 2 trays, one for in, and one for work in progress, which currently is stuff i need to scan from all these papers. I suspect however, that once i get on the drives, i will find most of this electronically filed, especially as a lot of the source documents were electronic to start, before they were printed out.
It says something about my predecessor that I think I do not want to dwell on too much. He was clearly obsessive, and i suspect not very productive. I did go and look him up on a business networking site, he still has his old job title, my new one, even though he left the company last year, and he is still looking for work. I will not be sending him an invitation to connect.