Filing a-z? or one big pile?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by sesteph6, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. sesteph6

    sesteph6 Registered

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    Re-reading Davids book. I follow GTD strictly. I dont apply alot of innovation. I do it the way he says to do it. I use the standard lists @agenda, @office, @calls, etc. I figure David and the team has done most of the thinking for me, so why reinvent the wheel. Here is where I have a major deviation, and Im totally considering a full filing reboot to be more GTD Orthodox!

    David CLEARLY recommends AGAINST the all in one file approach. He is specific as to why, and leave no room for ambiguity. He is opposed to dumping everything in one "cabinet" and using the powerful digital search methods. He extends this philosophy across, paper, digital(evernote) and EMAIL filing. Instead he strongly encourages an A-Z filing method. Interestingly he uses this in Paper, Digital(evernote), and Email.

    So this is the one area where (for unknown reason) I must think I have a better or easier way of doing it. Has anyone implemented the A-Z approach across all media formats (paper digital and email)? Has this been a major improvement over past methodologies. I have not had any real problems using the evernote search feature to find what I am looking for, however I cant get past the idea that if this was the best way to file, well thats what david would be doing, instead he specifically advising against it!

    thoughts appreciated!
     
  2. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I implement the A-Z filing across all of my storage locations, paper, regular files on my computer in a folder called File_Cabinet and DEVONThink, my equivalent of Evernote. I also implement fairly strict single level folders. So I don't have huge hierarchy trees within the electronic system. I do have separate file cabinets, folders for the electronic ones and drawers for the physical ones, for files related to 2 organizations where I am a current officer. That's so that when my term is up I can easily pass on all the files to the next person who holds the office.

    Searching may be fast but it's not nearly as fast as knowing where to look. With my filing system I always know where to look for any information I need.
     
  3. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    Yep.

    This thing is primarily a usability problem, not so much one of data architecture. With the hundreds of files in my system, I would get tens or more of all kinds of search results and forget about just scrolling to the file directly. It is easier to just open the right "letter" folder and seeing a short list of folders and choose the right one. It is much faster.

    If you don't like the A-Z then use another hierarchy. The point is to have easy manageable short lists of folders.
     
  4. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    During my years with GTD I found that A-Z approach works perfectly for information but doesn't work for physical objects. For example in your kitchen you keep knives, forks and spoons together instead of keeping spoons in the "S" box with salt... ;-)
     
  5. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I like relatively short lists of files within my folders but don't really care how many folders are in the "File_Cabinet" folder. My main one has over 600 folders in it. Not sure how many files are in my systems but it's hundreds of thousands.
     
  6. petdr

    petdr Registered

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    Do you keep your research notes in the file cabinet along with the project support? Do you group the research notes into subject or broader headings or just have each their own folders ("short lists of files within folders")? Not sure if that question made sense. Say, you have notes on wool characteristics on a certain line, do you file it under the wool characteristic or the breed? This is one of the main problems I have with organizing my notes. Would love to see a screen capture or an example of your folders, if possible, to give us an idea of the granularity in your system. TIA.
     
  7. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Everything is on one "cabinet" except current active projects. I move projects in and out of Someday/Maybe frequently so things area always in flux. One of my steps in my weekly review is to move the no longer active files back into the cabinet and pull the ones for active projects into my "active projects" folder

    I tend to file under largest category first followed by secondary. Here is an example from the sheep section of my electronic file cabinet.
    Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 7.13.42 PM.png

    And here is one of the contents of one of those folders

    Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 7.16.33 PM.png

    And here is another example that shows the lowest level

    Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 7.18.23 PM.png

    Does that help?

    I also have backlog that hasn't been categorized or filed yet

    Like this batch that is currently living in action support for the project rename files and the action is Files to Rename Sheep Genetics
    Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 7.20.41 PM.png

    Not sure if that helps or not but feel free to ask again. <G>
     
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  8. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    And because I know someone is going to ask, the poodle shoot is when we shore 2 rams, one as a poodle and one in a lion cut. What can I say we were bored.

    cropped_7912.jpg


    cropped_7679.jpg
     
  9. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    I've got two questions (maybe dumb in the sheep area but relevant in the organization area):
    1. You've got "Sheep-Chockolate_Welsh" and "Sheep-Canada_Export_2016" folders. Where would you put files about exporting chockolate welsh to Canada in 2016?
    2. Where would you put a file about teaching sheep jump and sing? Do you have a general "Sheep" folder for miscellaneous sheep related files (IMHO it would be a bad practice because "miscellaneous" folders usually become "dump all" folders). Or would you immediately create "Sheep-Tricks" folder?
     
  10. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    For number 1, the sheep Export contains all the official documents, registration paper copies, health certificates, international Ag export and import permits. Whether the sheep are chocolate welsh or black or white doesn't matter. So if it was a document about an export it goes there.

    The Chocolate Welsh folder is for articles on the genetics of the Chocolate color, pictures of Chocolate Welsh, articles about them and so on.

    I would probably create a folder Sheep-Training.


    When a folder gets too big, like the sheep genetics folder will be once I finish renaming all the files that go in there, I'll probably separate it into more folders. How that gets separated will depend on what I end up keeping as files. I suspect I'll have Sheep_Genetics-Parasite_Resistance and leave the rest in the main sheep genetics folder. So far that is the only topic where I know Ihave a lot more scientific papers compared to other more general topics. However I may need to separate out papers on calculating heritability of characteristics and documenting what the heritabilities are for different traits in different breeds. I'm starting to amass a lot in that area as I need t for both LambTracker and BVest programming projects and it will be helpful if they are all in one location.
     
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  11. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Thank you. So there is no "Sheep" or "Sheep-General" or "Sheep-Miscellaneous" folder in your system? There's always a specific secondary part of the broad category?

    And by the way: beautiful poodle and lion! ;-)
     
  12. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I try not to have a Sheep-Miscellaneous or similar folder but I do have a few of them, Software_Miscellaneous for manuals for some small utilities for example. Sheep I tend to separate because I have more stuff in that area. I will start with a single large folder say, Armor, where all the various articles on all sorts of armor initially live. If I get many more articles and it becomes hard to find something then I might further divide that into Armor-Chain_Mail and Armor-Leather and Armor-Plate. I don't divide until I have to. I have single folders for Cattle, Chickens, Garden, Geese, Hops and so on. If I get too much in them I'll split them up.
     
  13. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Great! For me it's an ideal approach.
    The important characteristics of this system is that it is a flat one-level list of folders.
    You create one-level list:
    /Sheep-Chockolate_Welsh
    /Sheep-Canada_Export_2016
    /Sheep-Canada_Export_2017
    instead of the multi-level hierarchical structure:
    /Sheep
    /Sheep/Chockolate_Welsh
    /Sheep/Canada_Export
    /Sheep/Canada_Export/2016
    /Sheep/Canada_Export/2017
    The multi-level structure is harder to browse and requires more folders (in this example 5 instead of 3).
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2017
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  14. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Exactly, a flat list of folders is far faster to use and file in.
     
  15. sesteph6

    sesteph6 Registered

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    Interesting dialog, thank you... What about email. It would appear David Uses an a-z folder system there as well?
     
  16. petdr

    petdr Registered

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    Thank you. That was very helpful. So you have a flat list of folder but the names of the folder is multi-leveled. For instance, instead of having a folder SHEEP that contains subfolders CANADA-EXPORT and Chocolate_Welsh, you have folders named SHEEP_CANADA-EXPORT and SHEEP_CHOCOLATE_WELSH etc...

    That makes such perfect sense.

    BTW, do you use - (hyphen) and _ (underscore) interchangeably in the folder names or do they have different designation?

    Thanks, again.
     
  17. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    They are different in how I use them. Hyphen is for the finer divisions, Underscore is in place of a space so that my files and filenames are readable under all operating systems.
     
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  18. Penny

    Penny Registered

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    Really interesting discussion. I am struggling with the way to organize reference and project support and still haven't found a way that works for me. The main issue I find with the a-z system is to remember where each document is stored as the number of folders increases and also - what do you do when the same document addresses several projects/topics?
     
  19. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    Both of these issues suggest that your A-Z filing is project based rather than based on the material itself. I'd recommend basing it on the material.

    That is, let's say that I have, oh, a vintage pamphlet on growing and cooking potatoes. (I made this up; I have no such pamphlet.) It's relevant to my gardening, because I want to try the growing techniques. It's relevant to cooking, because I want to try the recipes. It's relevant to a nonfiction book that I'm writing about Victory gardens. But I don't store it under any of those; I store it under "Potatoes."

    Now, I realize that "Potatoes" may still not be the obvious place for it--for example, if it's a wartime government pamphlet, maybe I'd have it under the government agency that created it. My main point is that I'd store it based on its own nature, rather than based on what projects I might use it for.
     
  20. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Put it where I think I will look for it first. For paper documents if I am really unsure I'll put a single piece of paper in the other location(s) where I think I might look for it with a note that additional documents are in folder X. Sort of a physical cross reference system. For digital files I rarely do that because I can usually search for it if I need it fairly fast.

    In a related thing is how I file books. I group them generally into subject areas, so I have the sheep books in one location, the pasture/grazing books in one location. Books are different sizes so I put them into shelves to fit by size. Some groupings, like Science Fiction books, are organized by author last name, then within author by series and within series by order in time of the events in the book for that world. Sounds more complex than it works out to be in practice.

    I tend to remember where I read something by where in my bookcases the book lives. So I hate it when I have to rearrange the books significantly because I lose my index and have to learn a new one.

    Kindle books I De DRM and then I can search them easily.
     

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