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Newbie Question re Folders

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  • Newbie Question re Folders

    I've just been out and bought the basic tools and I've been checking out some images of people's desks and how they've done their folders etc. I've bought about 200 plain Manilla Folders foolscap size but they don't have tabs. Is this an issue when it comes to labelling?

    Any advice re the folder setup is appreciated, I feel somewhat daunted by the number of folders I may need in the end, my tendency in the past with my somewhat poor attempt at file organisation is to just start grouping "stuff" together that is only very tenuously linked in anyway, thus starting the inevitable neverending search to retrieve said information.


  • #2
    Yes, tabs help a lot. However, at this stage I recommend you use what you have, and if the pain is significant, then you can go out and buy tabbed folders. It may not be an issue for you.

    Here's my setup:

    Two filing cabinets, two drawers per cabinet. Drawers are labeled A-F, G-K, L-O, a nd P-Z. I didn't label them until I'd filled them with folders, and saw how the alphabetization fell out per drawer.

    The A-F drawer (top left) has the 43 tickler folders at the front.

    I have a tickler that reminds me to clean up my cabinets every so often. One nice aspect of ticklers is that I don't have to remember the frequency, so it's one less thing on my mind. I think it's every six months. This cleanup process involves throwing out unneeded materials and archiving old papers that I don't need quick access to (such as financial statements). My archive consists of Xerox boxes in a closet.

    What else do you want to know?


    • #3
      Folders etc

      Thanks for that Brent I will forge ahead with the Manilla folders, next question do you find you have many general reference folders with say only one piece of paper in them? If I start to find I have many of these does it mean I going into too much detail? In other words how much refinement is too much? For example: I have at the moment (in my soon to be abandoned ineffective suspension file system) a folder for each of my dogs (pedigreed, breeding, showing, competing etc) which comes under their names ie "Raven" yet I also have a folder for all "Pet Health" issues (ie vet x rays, results of health tests, and ongoing veterinary expenses/bills paid). Should I just dump any and all papers to do with just "Raven" under her folder - should I be keeping up the Pet Health folder (which increases in size with each dog that stays in the family)? Or should I have a subfolder? behind the "Raven" folder ie "Raven - Health"?



      • #4
        If you report dog expenses and income on your taxes, you might want to keep all information with tax consequences together. (Ask your accountant what to keep and for how long.) Otherwise, I would file all information under the dog it relates to. Raven's x-rays aren't very helpful if you're looking for Spike's, and vice versa.

        If you have *lots* of dog-related information, you might need to break it down further:
        Raven -- health
        Raven -- breeding
        Raven -- expenses
        You get to define how much "lots" is for yourself. One rule of thumb I've seen is that a file should be split if it's more than an inch thick.

        You might also want a file for general kennel expenses, like food, and another for general reference information like the AKC registration instructions, breed standards, etc.



        • #5
          Folders to Capturing

          Thanks Katherine - that rule of thumb re the one inch thick file being split is probably advisable for me.

          My only other question was; as I was reading the Capturing/Collection stage of HTGTD at the start of Part 2 was wondering how much "stuff" do you actually collect - if I go by the rule that I collect everything that is NOT already in it's permanent place then A: I don't have enough space in my office/desk area to collect all this stuff and B: Even though I have a free weekend coming up now I think I'll still be gathering "stuff" this time 48 hours from now!
          As a teacher (middle school) as well I have around 5 years worth of resources for several subject areas (both here and at the school!) that I know are not in any place that I can easily retrieve (and whilst I would no doubt be trashing alot of stuff I can see my paranoia about trashing something I may just use in the next 5 years of my teaching will inevitably draw out the "processing" stage of clearing my IN tray) I have been told by a colleague that I am probably not brutal enough about "cleaning out" at the end of each school year - but faced with such a massive amount one is tempted to simply trash the lot! I have no doubt though that doing so would probably cause me more worry...about what I had thrown out but maybe shouldn't have.

          Can this GTD process be implemented in such a way that I perhaps do it in sections? Perhaps for the next two days only concentrating on the stuff in certain rooms of the house rather than the entire house....has anyone done it that way?



          • #6
            Plenty of people do their initial processing in sections. For example, you might simply create a project for "clean out teacher files," and leave all teacher related stuff alone for the time being. Just go through your teacher files quickly to make sure Raven's x-rays didn't slip in there by mistake.



            • #7
              Simone, a couple of thoughts:

              In collecting, go through everything. If there are large areas, rooms, garages, etc. that you know you need to go through, but that you don't want to collect and process right now, write it on a piece of paper ("Collect and process storage room") and put that in your inbox. When you get to the processing stage, you'll decide (probably) that this is a project, which means that you'll either park it as a someday/maybe, or you'll identify and record the next action to move it forward. The benefit to this is getting all of those thoughts, obligations, want-to, have-to, shoulds off of your mind and into your system that you trust holds all of your commitments.

              Whenever I have something to file in general reference, I ask myself, "why would I need this?" and "where would I look for this when I need it?" That almost always helps me to label things. And yes, be ok with putting one piece of paper in a folder.

              And make sure that you're not filing actionable, or possibly actionable, stuff there. If a thing or piece of paper relates to an action, keep it separate from your general reference (in project support).

              Good luck!