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On Folders, Filing, and Organizing...

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  • On Folders, Filing, and Organizing...

    Hi All,

    New to the boards and first-time poster! I'm in the middle of reading GTD for the second time and things are really starting to sink in.

    I'm about to put together my A-Z Reference system and have a few questions:

    1. Manila Folders: What size (letter/legal/etc.) and cut (half/third/etc.) are you using? I'm using half cut. Any preferences? I know DA recommends going with letter size, which I'm also using.

    2. Filing Cabinet: Can you describe your set up as it relates to your filing system?

    3. How do you organize your "Active Projects" vs. "Project Support" material vs. "Reference" material? I'm looking for some inspiration here and tips on how to sort out these separate areas.

    4. Also, my 4-drawer vertical filing cabinet (which my father used for years and now is totally mine) is ideally suited to fit legal size hanging folders. However, in the spirit of GTD, I got myself a box of letter size Manila folders to use instead (and I also have lots of hanging folders). But when I place these letter-size folders inside the cabinet I have a lot of extra space to the left and right side of the folders (i.e. legal size folders are obviously a better fit). So is this extra space thing a problem or am I making a big deal out of nothing?

    I'm asking a lot of "GTD rookie" questions, eh? Don't worry, I have many more to ask!

    Any feedback from the community is greatly appreciated.

    Very glad to be here -- and hope to learn and contribute a lot!

  • #2
    I hope I can answer some of your concerns:

    1 and 4. My work requires us to use legal size manila folders. At home, however, I use letter size. I think either size is well-suited to GTD. Letter sized is more portable for those trips out of the office. If you have a legal sized cabinet, you might consider the legal sized folders so that things won't shift in the drawer. Each size has its own strengths and weaknesses, so go with what allows you to access your files accurately and quickly.

    2. My file cabinets are standard lateral cabinets. I don't use hanging folders because they fall off the tracks too easily. The folders are organized A-Z.

    3. Actives, Support, and Reference - I don't sort these out by folder. Everything goes into the A-Z filing system. If an action or project requires going into the cabinet, I'll note that on either a next action list or project list. I use the lists as the management tool, not the folders themselves. Some people prefer to store their folders in different drawers or by area. For those things I'm continually working on, I might have a few support notes in my Circa notebook.

    Ultimately, follow your intuition and go with what works for you. Don't feel bad if you don't follow David's advice exactly when it comes to filing. The hallmark of a good system is one that you can access and add to quickly and efficiently.


    • #3
      Stew, thanks so much for taking the time to respond. Your reply is very helpful!

      I actually returned my letter size Manila folders and exchanged them for straight cut legal size ones instead, which makes for a much better fit in my filing cabinet. I'm in the process of completing my general reference filing system, so that will be great to get done.

      I'm still having some trouble dealing with my Active Projects, in terms of feeling comfortable in keeping track of them on a day-to-day basis in my "Next Action" notes. A little tricky to juggle my projects this way, but I think I'll get the hang of it soon enough.

      My folders for Active Projects, Project Support, and General Reference I'm keeping in the same filing cabinet.

      [P.S. I think I may have inadvertently posted this thread in the wrong forum here. Mods, please feel free to move my topic to the GTD forum instead. Thanks.]