• If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.


No announcement yet.

Can't Remember what I store in filing cab

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Can't Remember what I store in filing cab

    I have a memory problem. I like the GTD system because it helps me not have to remember everything. I LOVE having my files in order, however, I keep forgetting what is in there. For instance, I file a how-to-do something file under its appropriate category (I'm talking about physical files). A few weeks later, I need to know how to do that, and I will spend time searching on the Internet. When I find it, print it, and file it - oops I see I already had that. I just constantly do the same thing over and over because I keep forgetting it is done.
    I'm thinking maybe I need an index or catalogue of my files. But how to do that and maintain it . . .
    Am I the only one with this problem? Any Ideas?

  • #2
    I may be wrong, but it seems to me that your brain doesn't believe that your filing cabinets are a trusted source of information. When you want to research something, you don't think to look in your filing cabinets. Seems to me, if you had an index or catalogue, you wouldn't think to look at it before searching the internet.

    How long has this been going on?

    How much do you use the internet?

    What if you refused to use the internet to research anything until you exhausted all physical, local resources? (I've done this, and it's been very effective.)


    • #3
      What's the purpose of collecting this information?

      Originally posted by Debs View Post
      I have a memory problem.
      Maybe you have a problem with excessive Internet browsing and data collecting? What's the purpose of collecting this information? Do you really need it printed out and archived in your reference system?


      • #4
        How static is the info you are looking up? If it's a how-to procedure that's likely to change often, maybe that's part of the reason why your brain is not building trust in a paper file. Sometimes it's approrpiate to NOT file in a paper folder, and instead continue using the internet as your source of documentation. When you find something useful, but it's likely to change regularly, just add it to your Favorites list (which can be organized into folders if you are so inclined). If you want to keep a cross-reference to the URL in your paper file, that could be helpful too.


        • #5
          If the document exists in electronic form, why bother with paper? Both the Internet and your computer's hard drive are far easier to search.

          For me, the best solution has been to keep electronic things electronically and paper things on paper. As an added bonus, the list of paper things is short enough that my files are pretty manageable.



          • #6
            I don't have this problem but on another thread here I read an interesting solution. The person was using a label printer attached to their computer so everytime they printed a label they pasted a copy of the label in a text file. That text file served as an index to their filing cabinet.

            My label printer doesn't attach to my computer but occasionally I wish I did when I am searching the third or fourth possible heading I might have filed information under



            • #7
              I would suggest to use a blend of the hints of

              1. TesTeq: Archive only what is necessary.
              2. kewms: Archive electronically if possible.
              3. mmurray: Make an electronic index.
              4. Brent: Refuse to use the internet to research anything until you exhausted all local resources.



              • #8
                Good points

                It's true, I do need to look at what I save and why. I do need to check out my own stuff before looking on the Internet. And to trust my system. I love the label idea with the index generated at same time - so, let me give this all a good think and a try. Thanks to all of you for your suggestions (and to Senior Member for summarizing them for me).


                • #9
                  First, there are some best practices for document retention, and one of them is "could I find it elsewhere if I needed to?" If so, don't save it locally - search for it later.

                  If you later want to find a *particular* resource, use an electronic tool - your brower's bookmarks are a simple solution, or a note-taking tool (there's a zillion of them out there - e.g., EverNote). I use a simple texts file - works fine (more here).

                  If you really want to keep the paper, think a bit more carefully about how you'll use it, i.e., focus on the act of retrieving, not filing. You may come up with a different title.

                  If *that* doesn't help, consider an indexing tool. I'd strongly recommend against a home-grown one - too much work. A very popular one is here: