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Who uses hanging files?

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  • Who uses hanging files?

    DA recommends not using pendaflex-style hangers. Instead, he suggests just stacking the manila folders against themselves, possibly propped up by some metal plate at the back of the filing cabinet drawer.

    Personally, I have never figured out what metal plate he's talking about. None of the filing cabinets I've ever seen have anything remotely able to prop up a drawer full of manila files. That said, I faithfully followed his advice for some time, using a couple of large books to prop up the manilas.

    But it was messy.

    So - are people using hangers or not? If so, do you stick with one manila per hanger? Isn't that expensive (in money and in space)?


  • #2
    The key thing I think people miss when reading the book, is that David does point out that you need to look for a high quality file cabinet. Rarely are we talking about your Office Depot, Staples, Office Max variety (their own brand of cabinet). The type of file cabinet David talks about is more equvilent to industrial quality or of a furniture variety. When you get to this level you are looking at a $150 and upward for a two draw cabinet like a Hon (which the above shops do sell). But as David mentions, they are worth it, they are an investment in your sanity simply due to the effortless manner in which they function. And if you go for the wood varieties, they add style to your office environment.

    This level of cabinetry have the metal/wood plates (spring-loaded followers). They slide in a recessed track up against the files like a moveable bookend.

    PendaFlex style hangers can be a real PITA without the use of a follower. Try to get the hanging folders that have accordian sides and look more like a container than the no-sided style.

    This .pdf file shows the two different styles of followers used by Hon.

    Last edited by MsftMan; 03-28-2005, 10:20 PM. Reason: Spelling


    • #3
      Don't tell DA, but I use hanging folders. I tried it his way, and didn't like the flaccid look and feel of unhung files, even when held up with a metal plate. One of the main principles of avoiding hanging folders is that the extra time it takes when you make a file will subliminally discourage you from being willing to make new files spontaneously ("under one minute and subliminally fun" is David's criterion for spontaneous filing). I obviated the issue a keeping a file cabinet of blank folders I've already inserted into hangers, so it takes zero additional time to make new files. So now I Pendaflex my files with a clear conscience.

      "Does Albrechtsberger forbid parallel fourths? Well I allow them!" -- Beethoven


      • #4
        I am a proud user of hanging folders too. They automatically maintain vertical position while not hanging ones are sometimes lazy and like lying on the bottom of the drawer where nobody can find them.


        • #5
          I use pendaflex-type folders too. I just put the manila folder in whatever empty pendaflex comes to hand....


          • #6
            Originally posted by whsbpb
            So - are people using hangers or not? If so, do you stick with one manila per hanger? Isn't that expensive (in money and in space)?
            My default for file cabinets is hanging. I tried stacking manila folders several years ago and had the same issues cited by TesTeq (even with a follower).

            I often (not always) create both a hanging and manila (both labeled). I've found that the time I lose on the front end creating two files I gain back later through the ease and speed of refiling.

            I do keep multiple manilas in a single hanging file in situations where I have several manilas with just a couple sheets of paper each, which cluster naturally under a larger category.

            On the other hand, I use stacking manilas in fliptop file cases which I use for certain large categories such as maps and user manuals.

            Last edited by mscudder; 03-29-2005, 11:27 AM. Reason: add signature


            • #7
              File Jackets and File Pockets

              I still use pendaflex hanging folders at work, though for filing at home I use a combination of file folders, file jackets, file pockets and bookends. The main reasons why I switched at home were that as I started creating single file folders for each topic, the metal hangers started taking up more space and the extra costs started to add up quickly. File pockets and expanding file jackets can stand on their own. For file folders, I use a good size bookend to keep them standing straight up. I'll add more detail under the "physics of filing" thread when I get a chance.

              Examples of file jackets and pockets:



              • #8
                I use hanging files, with one hanging file for each letter, A-Z, with the letter on a label on the plastic tab. When a hanging file starts getting too full of manila folders, I add another one behind it, without the tab/label. For me, having the letters visible helps in finding my place quickly both for filing and finding.


                • #9
                  Pendas yes

                  I use hanging files, but don't use one manila folder for every hanging file--too costly in drawer space and bucks. Pendas are made in box-bottom versions in varying widths, from 1/2" to at least 3". If you're going to forgo the master A-Z format and break down your filing by broad category, as many of us seem to, you can give a box-bottom Penda a category name and fill it with specifically labelled manila files. (You can do the same thing using one letter of the alphabet per Penda if you're running A-Z.) Match the box bottom width to the volume of files, and get a larger one (or add more) if the files exceed comfortable capacity. I find the tabs of standard manila folders are easily viewed within a Penda, and if I want to see the Penda alone, I can use the Penda manila folders that are a little shorter than the standard type.

                  If filing is supposed to be pleasurable, I gotta say that the old-fashioned method of filing naked manilla folders and using the sliding supports to keep things upright is decidedly UNfun. Those supports can pinch you, and it's very awkward to reach back around the top of them to adjust them if you have to push them back. I've always hated the fact that they occupy a good extra inch of filing room all by themselves, and I've removed them from old cabinets when converting for Pendas. If you keep the support loose, the folders will slump and at least one (usually one with critical information) will limbo under the others, never to be seen again. Kinda confounds the whole purpose, doesn't it?

                  I can see the manila-only method being okay for dead files or archives, but active files are better stored in a more user-friendly system--Pendas. IMO.


                  • #10
                    I, too, use hanging folders for GTD. Shhhhhhhh......


                    • #11
                      There are LOTS of us hanging-file users out here, evidently! I LOVE mine: household bills in one box-bottom (manilas for each vendor); vet bills in another (manilas for each pet); bank statements in another (manila for each account); etc.

                      Oh, yeah: my hanging files are the colored ones! And I recommend to most of my organizing clients that they use color-coded hanging folders AND inner folders to ease their organizational/filing woes.



                      • #12
                        I've actually discussed this with David in the past. I use a "dual system" of reference filing.

                        For current reference filing, the stuff I need immediately at hand, etc., I have two two-drawer file cabinets immediately to the right of my desk. This will sound familiar to the initiated, but in the top left-hand drawer I have my tickler file and a big supply of new, unused manila folders. Starting in the lower left-hand drawer and continuing in the upper and lower right-hand drawers (in that order), I have my immediately-at-hand general reference files, organized alphabetically. I'm the only one who does any filing in that drawer, and I purge the files -- or move them to long term storage as discussed below -- once a year (right after Jan 1 each year).

                        Also in my office, across the room, are two three-drawer metal lateral filing cabinets. I'm a lawyer, and my firm really likes these lateral cabinets. I even had to have one of our maintenance staff build me the two two-drawer cabinets mentioned above to match our furniture (and to fit partially under the right side of my desk). Anyway, for those metal filing cabinets I use a combination of hanging file folders and the Paper Tiger file management software. That software -- which resides both on my office desktop and my laptop, and which I sync from time to time with my Treo, so the info is always at hand -- helps me track longer term storage stuff -- i.e., the things I know I don't need immediately at hand, but may need someday: e.g., software license keys and user manuals, reference materials from the continuing legal eduction seminars I have to attend every year, etc., etc. These cabinets also hold some stuff I "purge" from the shorter-term cabinets, if I think I may need to refer to the stuff "someday."

                        One of the nice things about the Paper Tiger software is that you can type in as many keywords as come to mind for each folder. Each folder then is just numbered, starting at 1 and going as high as you need -- and you can add more as you need them, or dump the contents of an existing folder and replace those contents with a completely unrelated set of materials. Then, if I need to find, say, the license keys for various software, all I have to do is type into Paper Tiger's find box the name of the software, or whatever other key word I can think of, hit enter, and the software immediately tells me what folder it's in.

                        I have it easier than some folks, because I have a secretary. She long ago made up 200 hanging file folders with numbered tabs. Right now, we've used 162 of those. If I get something that needs to be filed in a folder we're already using -- info about an upgraded version of software I'm already using -- I just write the number of the existing folder in the upper right hand corner of the paper, toss in my "To Kim" box, and she files it in the right place. If I get in something new that doesn't yet have a place, I select one of the unused folders in the Paper Tiger software, type in a few keywords, write the number of the new folder in the upper right hand corner of the paper, and toss it in the same box. It takes a whole lot longer to describe how this works than to use it. It's very fast. Among other things, it also allows me to type in tons of keywords, so if I go to a seminar on Commercial Leasing, and the speakers talk independently on 15 different subjects, I can enter key words for all the different subjects -- assignment and subletting, estoppel certificates, leasehold mortgages, etc. -- then if I have a problem and want to know if I have any materials that might help me on that issue, I just search on a key word or two and, like magic, I get the results that point me to the right book in the right folder. (These seminar materials typically come all bound together, so it wouldn't be a simple process to divide the materials up into separate folders.) I also usually insert the names of the speakers in the keyword section for those materials, because sometimes I can remember hearing a particular person present on a subject, so I can search on that person's name.

                        I've been using the Paper Tiger software for a number of years now -- before I'd ever heard of GTD -- and it makes life a whole lot easier.

                        So, yes, I do use hanging folders for certain purposes, though for my right-at-hand stuff (both in the office and at home) I prefer the old manila folders in letter sized file drawers.

                        Randy Stokes


                        • #13
                          oh the joy!

                          i'm new to gd - been lurking around here for a while, just got the book and am working my way though it. i decided to use this saturday night to "set up the right buckets" in preparation for the big collection & processing. so i'm sorting through and cleaning out my old, overstuffed filing cabinet and getting it ready for full-fledged gtd implementation.

                          i am so in love with this incredibly simple, strictly alphabetical filing system! it eases my mind completely ... filing is as simple as making a folder for the first word that comes to mind for a piece of paper. local park maps i'm keeping for trail references? make a "parks" folder. cell phone bill? make a "cell phone" folder. dog shot records? make a "butch" folder (his name).

                          i am bending the rules a bit by using hanging folders, ne per manila folder. it keeps the separation between manila folders neat and even, but i'm not labeling the hanging folders. the only separation i've created is between recurring monthly bills records and the rest. the bills folders are all center tab, still simply alphabetical, and the rest of the folders are all left tab. that way i can easily access monthly bills, and so can my man. and i can buy a regular box of third tab folders, separate out the center cuts and convert the right tabs to lefties by flipping them around.

                          so easy! so simple! so beautiful. i'm excited.