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Filing System and Notes

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  • Filing System and Notes

    Hello all,

    I just wanted to discuss my current filing system (which is mirrored in my laptop and in my physical files). And see how I can improve it. (I didn't feel comfortable with the A-Z system recommended by David, because there's so many ways to label a particular 'thing').

    Here's my system on my laptop and physical cabinets:

    1) Personal
    - For all things personal, like photoalbum, mementos, personal letters

    2) Education
    - For all my educational files, courses, transcripts etc. Book summaries

    3) Govt
    - For all Governmental files like taxes, social security

    4) Finance
    - Investments, bank statements

    5) Employ (about to rename this Career)
    - Offer letters, payslips, old work files

    6) Personal Admin
    - Telephone bills, cable subscriptions

    And on top of that, I have electronic notes in 1 directory relating to personal growth or habits or goals (so that I can search through all of them rapidly), this forms my electronic 'memory' i.e. it supplements my current mind.

    So recently I've been struggling with modifying my filing system a little to be more reflective of my goals in life for e.g.:

    1) Physical

    2) Finance

    3) Habits

    4) Spiritual

    5) Family

    6) Friends ...

    etc. The prior filing system was driven more by paperwork than anything else, I was just wondering if driving the design from goals would be better.

    Any thoughts ?

  • #2
    Be careful...don't overcategorize

    Making lots of categories will multiply the number of places something isn't. Furthermore they will make deciding where a file should go more difficult and time consuming. Feel free to experiment but make sure you're not creating any internal resistance to filing because of your system.

    When it comes to setting up any system of organizing I suggest you do the simplest thing that could possibly work (strict A-Z only, which you've already done), then add elements only as you really need them.


    • #3
      agree with keeping it simple, however would suggest trying two categories of work and everything else (personal?) to start with. This should broadly reflect the mental division that exists.

      Good luck with it, an important one to crack



      • #4
        Originally posted by keithbohanna View Post
        agree with keeping it simple, however would suggest trying two categories of work and everything else (personal?) to start with. This should broadly reflect the mental division that exists.

        Good luck with it, an important one to crack

        That division would exist geographically if files are kept at home and at work. However, there is no distinction between personal and professional in GTD. If I ran a business from home my General Reference Filing System would have a mix of personal and professional files in it.


        • #5
          I would simply have a personal and business A - Z filing system. The simplicity of this makes it work well, a bunch of categories is not needed in my opinion and serves to create more places things are not at.

          Good luck


          • #6
            Good points

            Thanks all for the good points:

            I like the point about the 'natural' mental division we have in our minds driving our filing system

            I'll be experimenting with my filing system, and I have these things to think about:

            1) Natural Mental division
            2) Geographic location of documents
            3) Simplicity

            Thanks all !


            • #7
              Originally posted by gtd_practice View Post
              Any thoughts ?
              Both look too complex and unwieldy to me. This is from the experience of doing what you have as your original implementation, Major categories then filed within those the subcategories or files of stuff, and then moving to something more akin to your second option, major sections for my areas of focus and then within those as needed and finally going to what is the recommended practice, a single a-z filing system.

              I do have 2 subsets of stuff that are separate but all my other filing, no matter whether it's for the farm, personal, the computer business or even a someday maybe item is in one large set of files arranged a-z. My subsets are for 2 organizations for which I am an officer and are kept separate so they are easy to hand off to the new officer as required.

              I'd try getting rid of all your subcategories and only add them back if you really need them.


              • #8
                this is

                It is this type of categorizing and re-categorizing that prompted the original A-Z suggestion.

                If you have a Nokia Cell Phone Users Manual, and you put it in a folder with the first name that pops in your head (cell phone, or nokia, perhaps), then you will likely think of the same thing when you are trying to retrieve it.

                Specifically, if I had that particular item, I could file it under:
                Cell Phone
                AT&T (wireless carrier)
                ... and that's about it.)

                If my files are A-Z then it will take but a few seconds to locate it. Note that after putting a lot of things in your files, you will get familiar with your file names and will remember having seen "Nokia" a lot.

                If, instead, you categorize by Product Literature--Manuals, or Electronics - Phones - Manuals - Nokia, you only multiply the number of places it can be. Every time you re-categorize, you add more confusion.

                There is no division of categories that will be completely leakproof for ANY type of information and will also be simple enough to remember.