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What filing cabinets do you use?

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  • What filing cabinets do you use?

    Before GTD the only file cabinets I ever "used" (and I use that word loosely) were the pendaflex, hanging kind.

    So after GTD a friend gave me a 2 draw filing cabinet - I use one draw for reference and one for tickler. It's a cheapo cabinet but it's not hanging folders/pendaflex. These files are *supposed" to "stand" on their own.

    So here's my big frustration: The files are either so squished together that I can't sift through them or they're so loose that they're practically laying down flat in a draw!

    Each draw has one of those "bars" in the back that you adjust to squish the files together but I just can't find a comfortable position!

    I thought there was something wrong with the cabinet so I went to Staples to look at new ones. I couldn't see anything different with theirs (of course, I didn't have a stack of files to test it with).

    Can you guys relate to this or am i doing something wrong?


  • #2
    My cabinets are HON brand (and others) and do not have a bar in back, but a plate that is released by squeezing a handle and the plate will slide forward or backward and lock into position wherever I want it every quarter inch or so, so I do not have the problem you describe.

    If your cabinet does not work that way, then some people put a magnetic bookend behind the files to support them.


    • #3
      Some people really like the cabinets without the hanging folders. Just remember the hanging folders were invented as an improvement for the situations you've experienced - either the folders are packed in too tightly, or they're so loose they either fall over or, worse yet, one slides down to the bottom and become lost. I have an old filing cabinet without the rails for hanging and a newer HON with the rails. I prefer the rails and suffer the lost space to accommodate the hanging folders.


      • #4
        I simply user the 'naked' Pendaflex folders. I do suffer the indignity of occasionally carrying aound a Pendaflex folder rather than a 'regular' file folder, but it's the price I'm willing to pay for simplicity.



        • #5
          One thing is for sure: life is too short to use a bad filing cabinet that causes you grief whenever you open the drawer.


          • #6
            I hear you, Barry - I should probably just go out and get a new one!

            How much should I expect to spend on a decent HON? Does Staples carry different models? (Definitely not looking for high-end; just has to be good enough)



            • #7
              Staples has a huge variety. If I had to buy one tomorrow, I would probably get one like in the link below (assuming it has the follower blocks, as it should). $120. I think this is the exact model I have and it is great. The drawers roll easily, no squeaks, everything works well and it seems like it will last a lifetime with any luck. I have had several cheaper ones and wasted my money on them. I got the optional lock as well for childproofing and privacy when my office becomes the guest room. I have also owned a similar 4-drawer model which is space efficient, but the 2-drawer model provides a nice table-height surface on top and is easier to find a location for. When my personal files are properly pared down, they easily fit in 2 drawers (no hanging folders used).


              By the way, the one I have will support hanging folders without the need to add rails (the sides of the drawer catch the folder's hooks). It also manages plain manilla folders very well due to the follower block in the back of the drawer. I'm not sure about this one, but with many of these, you can even set them up to hold legal sized hanging files sideways, if desired. Versatile.
              Last edited by Barry; 07-19-2007, 05:48 AM.


              • #8
                Here are a couple of posts that might help. Briefly, use plain (not hanging) files, buy a very good cabinet (used is often a better deal), and prop up falling files with a magnetic bookmark (if metal drawers).

                From Why every problem should be a GTD project:
                [7] Instead of buying cheapo filing cabinets from the big box office supply store, we go to an awesome local used office furniture store, which has a ton of inexpensive, but very high quality, filing cabinets. Our two-drawer cabinets are usually $300-400, but we got them for ~$50 each. They really work smoothly, and have have plenty of capacity. Plus, you never know what you'll find in them!
                From Five secret filing hacks from the masters:
                The "Magnetic bookend" hack: If you're a follower of Getting Things Done, you know the reasons why I recommend against hanging files. However, converting a drawer to plain file folders often results in the dreaded "files falling down" problem for drawers that don't have a movable metal plate (AKA "follower block", "compression plate", "spring-loaded backstop", or "back plate"). Very bad. After extensive research (I kid you not), I've discovered the optimal solution (at least for metal drawers) is to use a magnetic 'L-shaped' bookend to hold them up, like this.

                If this won't work for you (my last client had nice wooden drawers) you can get creative and find something to prop them up. My default is reams of paper, which can be stacked and oriented different ways to make up the space. You can also use empty boxes, etc.
                Hope that helps!
                Last edited by cornell; 07-21-2007, 09:04 PM.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by cornell View Post
                  Hope that helps!

                  I think you have a copy-and-paste error: unless the "magnetic bookend hack" is to buy your cabinets used for $50 and find someone elses' magnetic bookmark in them.


                  • #10
                    Plug for hanging files

                    Here's one that I swear changed my life....I discovered the hanging files with the expanded bottom. They hold a lot more of the manila file folders so that everything doesn't seem all scrunched in. Also, the manila file folders themselves have fold marks at the bottom that lets you "expand" the amount of paper they can hold as well. Now everything fits nicely and easily and all the labels are at the same level so I can see exactly where everything is.

                    My other strategy is to maintain a two-drawer, credenza-style filing cabinet and to purge it periodically (2-3 times per year). Stuff that I basically save forever (back tax returns, for example), goes in a separate box in my office closet, but things that I refer to regularly (most everything else) stays in the filing cabinet. I don't generally save any paper that is available to me electronically, and nothing more than about a year old unless I have a good reason. It helps keep the paper under control.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by LJM View Post
                      I think you have a copy-and-paste error: unless the "magnetic bookend hack" is to buy your cabinets used for $50 and find someone elses' magnetic bookmark in them.
                      Doh! Thanks for pointing out the error. I just corrected it.