Filing a-z? or one big pile?

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

  1. Penny

    Penny Registered

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    Many thanks both for your answers! I currently have everything by categories but it is becoming hard to manage and was looking into a new system - obviously the a-z system is the first I'm looking into since it's what is recommended in the GTD methodology. I believe that adding the note for paper documents could be extremely helpful! My main issue though is with digital since it's where I have most files, and would like to use the same structure for both.

    To give a couple of examples, both work related and personal:
    - Say that for work I have a validation report of a method to detect substance X in product Y through technique Z. The document could go in V (validation report), X (substance), Y (product) or Z (technique). Granted it's "just" 4 places, but considering the huge number of documents I have for each (validation reports, documents for the same substance, same product or same technique) it seems it would take quite a while to scan through all of them and find it.
    - For personal, an example could be the record for the last shot my eldest sone got. It could go under vaccines, medical records, name of my son, name of the medical center. In this case, vaccines seems to make most sense when focusing on nature of the document. However, a couple of years ago we had to change pediatricians. Since I have all the medical records together, it was fairly easy to pull them all out to make a copy for the new pediatrician. If I had an a-z system however, I would need to go through the whole system to find medical related documents per kid and make sure not to forget anything.

    I want to simplify the system, but I feel that a-z would complicate it even more and make it more difficult to retrieve things. I am clearly missing something, since it's the recommended method and seems to work for most people, but not sure what it is I'm missing!!!
     
  2. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I agree with that. A single way to file is easiest to deal with.

    How often do you look for those documents? In what context?

    For example: The way I'd approach the first work item would vary based on how often I need to refer the the information and in what context. If I have to provide copies of the validation reports for all products to a controlling entity or agency on a regular basis then I'd probably file it in validation reports. If however the controlling entity wants to audit and review all product info because they contact me asking for what I have on a specific product then I'd file under it the product. If I must report based on what substances are found or need to summarize all places I found a specific substance then I'd file it by substance. If I have to evaluate techniques to determine which one works better then I might file it under technique.

    In my world a similar thing is a scrapie surveillance report on a dead sheep. I could file it under the individual sheep or under scrapie reports. But in my case I'll only have to look for it if the federal vets require the data sometime in the next 7 years. In the rare case I need to get one searching through a single year's reports to find the one they want won't take much time so I just file it in a by year folder of flock data. I put all the vet lab work, scrapie surveillance and health certificate reports in that file. It's about an inch thick each year of paper and so would take me very little time to go through it if I need to. Why file it so extensively when I won't need it that often and the clustering of documents doesn't make the file too big?

    For the personal one I file that sort of thing by person. So I have a file for myself and one for my husband. When we've had to provide medical records due to the medical center closing it was easier to grab the whole file for each person because we ended up with different primary care physicians. So in my A-Z system I have a file that says <lastname>_<firstname>_<middlename>-Medical_Records for me and one for my husband. We also each have files of <lastname>_<firstname>_<middlename>-Personal_Documents for things like birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports and social security cards that is in a safe. We each have both Life insurance and LTC insurance but when I think of that I think of insurance first so in that case the documents and policies are located in files Insurance-Life and Insurance-LTC and I put both our policies in there. It's just how I think of it. If I or someone else needed it they'd likely first look for insurance then the details and again it's not that much so easy to separate out which one is needed. The detail on our names is so that if we are both injured or incapacitated or gone someone else can find all the documents they need easily.

    Think about how you look for stuff and file accordingly.
     
  3. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    I often have a problem to categorize a document when I am in a "hoarder mode" ie. when I'm trying to file a document because someday/maybe it can be useful but I don't know when and what for... ;-)

    On the other hand I can easily find documents that I filed while doing something in the past as a Project's documentation. It is somehow contrary to the topical categorization. I would call it temporal or project-oriented organization.
     
  4. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I use project filing as well. Because I mix my someday/maybe or inactive project support files with reference in the same file cabinet I can have file folders with project names on them. When they are finished they are pure reference but while they are still potentially active they are someday/maybe. With so many projects that can span such a long time I estimate that about 1/2 of my files are of the project nature either as reference for finished stuff I might need again or support material for currently on-hold projects.
     
  5. Penny

    Penny Registered

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    Thanks so much for your feedback on this!

    For the work example I used, I need to find it once every 2-3 years by document type (report) and quite often per product. However, the same substance (and report) could apply to several products. I guess adding it to one product and then hyperlinking it in the other products would be the easiest option - as Oogiem mentioned for the paper system and the notes. Otherwise come up with a way to store it and stick to it. It makes sense that even if it's a-z based on document rather than project, some level of categorization is required and most of all consistency.

    It also seems like a great idea to store documents per project when they are active and then transferring them to reference once the project is done. I was initially thinking of keeping all documents in general reference and creating a spreadsheet per project linking all the documents that would apply to facilitate knowing what is available and how to access it, but separating them per projects when they are active might be more efficient.
     
  6. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

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    • but separating them per projects when they are active might be more efficient.
    It is also more tidy. Often times I find that I don't want to keep everything. It depends on the kind of work of course…

    When in doubt I just put the whole project folder into general reference and look at it as "one item."
     

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