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Using Manila Folders without 'Proper' Filing Cabinets

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  • Using Manila Folders without 'Proper' Filing Cabinets

    I don't possess the big type of file cabinet that are found in most offices and thus I don't have access to that slider David Allen talks about, so I picked up the first portable file boxes I found at office depot and a 100 manila folders.

    Here are pictures of my current setup. I put the mindmaps folder in front of my tickler file folders, because I only got 2 file boxes and I didnt see the need to have one JUST for projects yet.

    Couple things about this.

    1. I had to use books to prop up my folders. No slider to support them :P

    2. How is one supposed to SEE the labels on the folders? Wouldn't hanging file folders at least allow you to separate each folder with some really small space so you could actually see what the folders were as opposed to this... stack... You can see on the side of the filebox it has gutter things for hanging folders.

    3. Yes, I do need it to be portable. I'm not going to be moving it around very often, but I will be doing so enough that they need to be portable.

    Anyone have a solution for me? Or do I just need to go and pickup a stack of hanging file folders? Or should I return the fileboxes and get something different? (Mabye ones that I can just put labels from the labeler on? No insertable tabs and such..)

  • #2

    almost all of my manila file folders are in hanging file folders. Otherwise I would have the same problem like you have now.

    One part of the hanging file folders are in my three desk drawers for reference and the other part of them in portable file boxes on my desk for projects etc.

    The hanging file folders in my desk drawers don't have any tabs because the tabs would obstruct easy filing in the drawers. Btw, I use three cut manila file folders. Though I don't strictly keep the sequence 'left, middle, right' , it helps seeing what's in the hanging folder.

    The hanging file folders in the portable file boxes on my desk do have tabs for different categories of projects, office routines, and reading stuff.



    • #3
      Shoot, so now I'll have to buy hanging folders and put all my mamilla folders inside those? Why can't I just use the hanging folders themelves? Or do they not usually resemble plain manila folders?

      The three tab placement sounds like a good idea though, unfortunately I picked up and labeled a pack of 100 same placement folders.


      • #4
        Of course you can use hanging folders without using manila folders. Actually everybody I personally know does so. But then you have to decide what to do if you have to put two stacks of papers that belong to two different subjects, or topics, or projects into one single hanging folder.

        How do you keep them separated? And how do you know which projects are in which hanging folder?

        Many people I know use plastic translucent copy-safe folders (e.g. by Esselte) instead of manila folders. But you can't easily label those folders. You have to label the tabs of the hanging folders and then look from above into the inside of the hanging folder to see through the translucent cover of the copy-safe folder when you look for a certain paper.

        Other folks use big paper clips to separate the contents of their hanging folders. But if you have several bundles of paper with those paper clips you may get other problems.

        If you should decide to buy hanging file folders then I'd recommend buying hanging file folders with 'box bottoms'. The bottoms of these hanging foulders are much broader than those of the normal hanging folders. So you have more room inside one hanging folder and labeling the tabs makes more sense.

        Another different option would be to use bookends to support your manila file folders. Then you don't need the hanging file folders. But your file boxes need to have a closed bottom. I used to have bookends in desk drawers to support my manila folders. But after moving into another office I don't have them anymore. And because I inherited a big pack of unused hanging folders from a retired co-worker I decided to use them for keeping my manila folders in them.

        Hope this helps.

        Last edited by Rainer Burmeister; 07-28-2008, 05:22 AM. Reason: too many typos


        • #5
          Why would I want to put multiple projects into one folder? Wouldn't that defeat the purpose?


          • #6
            If portability is the main concern then you should perhaps think about certain briefcases (e.g. pilot cases) instead of file boxes and hanging folders.



            • #7

              If you use only the hanging folders, then when you remove the contents to use them, you'll have to remember what you named their hanging folder, or else label the file contents directly on the pages. Or, you could remove the whole hanging folder from the cabinet; the pokey bits on the ends make this a poor solution if you need portability.

              I have one manila folder in each hanging folder. It takes quite a bit of space but I've found it's worth it.



              • #8
                I don't use hanging folders.

                I am a little confused by your pictures. Were you only able to get manila folders with label tabs on the right? All the packages of manila folders I see have tabs on the left, middle, and right. When they're all in the filing cabinet, they're staggered (the first folder has a tab on the left, the second a tab on the middle, etc.), putting space between each one so you can see all the labels.

                That's how I do it.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Vexir View Post
                  3. Yes, I do need it to be portable. I'm not going to be moving it around very often, but I will be doing so enough that they need to be portable.
                  The store Staples sells some translucent stackable plastic boxes that can hold manila or handing folders. I used them quite successfully until I went with a wooden filing cabinet.

                  - Don


                  • #10
                    Well I guess for now I'm going to just have to I buy some hanging folders. And then use them as containers. Best option ATM.


                    • #11
                      One File per Hanger, Label the File, not the Hanger

                      David's suggestion for people who can't get rid of hanging file apparatus is to label the file, not the hanger, and use one hanger per file (rather than box-bottom with several files per hanger). This is my current set-up, since I just haven't been able to convince myself to spring for a good, high-quality filing cabinet. My mesh file boxes look goregeous, however, if I do say so myself. I also use all the same tab--actually, I buy triple-cut folders and fold all the right-side cut ones inside-out so that they become left-cut. I use the center-cut ones either for project support materials or for my yearly financial files that get archived at tax time. I find the visual appeal of having folders with tabs in all the same place to be worth the extra second it takes for me to find "coupons" behind "computer," but this is really a personal choice. If you choose to go with hanging files, I'd suggest one file per hanger. It's more expensive, and more bulky, but it makes it really easy to add and remove files from the system (plus the hanger serves as a nice "file out" marker when you have to remove a file).

                      Ah, Vexir, and since I just noticed you are a student, I thought I'd add that part of the reason I've never gotten around to buying a "real" cabinet is because I've been living the student life as well. It is totally possible to have a great GTD filing system using the cheapo boxes and drawers you can get at the back-to-school sales. My current system is mesh boxes that are stored in those snap-together wire cube shelving units that it seems like everybody and their sister has in their dorm rooms...
                      Last edited by jesig; 07-29-2008, 09:39 PM.


                      • #12
                        Right on Where do you go to school?