For paper filing: Should we separate Live Projects / Archived Projects / Support Materials ?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Ship69, Nov 23, 2017.

  1. Ship69

    Ship69 Registered

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    Hello

    In paper filing systems, is it best to physically separate:
    A) Live Projects
    B) Reference materials (which do not have any projects against them)
    C) Archived Projects

    What does Allen recommend?

    With thanks

    J
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2017
  2. K-S

    K-S GTD Connect

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    Hi Ship69,

    That's exactly the separation I have
    - Active project support material / active projects
    - Archived project support material / inactive projects
    - Reference

    I further keep all my next actions in my system so that they are not buried in the project support material.
    Works excellent!

    Hope that helps.
     
  3. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I don't know what David Allen recommends but I have only 2 groups. Current Active Projects and Everything else. The latter includes Reference files and Project Support Files for all other projects including those that are in Someday/Maybe, have been completed or are being Tickled to a later date. I tried to separate them for a while but it was too hard to maintain so I quit.

    I do have 2 totally separate systems for files related to 2 organizations where I am an officer but they are separate so that when I am no longer an officer I can easily pass on the files to a new person.
     
  4. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    I totally agree! Two categories only:
    - dead (information resting in peace);
    - alive (information for moving things forward).
     
  5. RS356

    RS356 Registered

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    My active projects are reflected in my project list, so I don't separate active and inactive project support materials in my reference filing. For the handful of quick-moving active projects, I may keep a physical folder in a rack on my desktop. All other files are in my A-Z cabinet.
     
  6. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Where do the project support materials go for projects that are in your Someday/Maybe list or that have a delayed start date some time in the future?
     
  7. RS356

    RS356 Registered

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    These are filed in the same A-Z manner. If needed, I'll remind myself of the file location in the item's description (i.e: Plant garden beds (file: Garden)). I often move projects between my active project list and someday/maybe. Keeping my files in one A-Z structure means I don't have the added step of refiling support materials when things move between lists.
     
  8. Ship69

    Ship69 Registered

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    Currently I just have one A-Z filing system for everything. My problem is that it's getting too cluttered and bloated and this makes things hard to find. A lot of older project stuff I am unlikely to need more than say once per year and that should really be archived off somewhere.
     
  9. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I'm confused. Why is it hard to find stuff? If it's all in one A-Z place then it should be easy. Now I can see separating out the current active projects from the rest but otherwise why bother archiving? Then when you do need it you'll have to look 2 different places, the referecne files and the archive files if you don't find it there. I'd rather deal with only 1 place to look for something that is not active.
     
  10. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Good point. I guess it depends on how many of those files you have and how you work with your paper support materials.

    In my case I'd rather spend the time to move the files for a project that moves to Someday/Maybe during my weekly review than keep it in my active file location. The reason is that I have 5 four drawer filing cabinets with paper materials. O have only 1 draw for active projects and that is a lot easier for me to work with.
     
  11. RS356

    RS356 Registered

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    Totally agreed! I should have mentioned, I do keep 3-5 paper files in a rack on my desktop for quick access to fast-moving projects. The contents of this holding area change on an almost daily basis, but its files always return to my A-Z system. Digital work is typically accessed through my operating system's recent files rather than navigating directly in my digital file storage.

    To keep things uncluttered, I review my file system quarterly and purge any old or unneeded files.
     
  12. ggray50

    ggray50 Registered

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    I have two OneNote books for this: "Project Support" and "A-Z filing". I've got an Archive section for old projects which sits within the Project Support book. I just drag the project support folders to the Archive section, once they're no longer live. That's easier than trying to transfer to the A-Z Ref book. I've also got A-Z reference ring binders which sit on my desk for all the other hard copy stuff that I accumulate.
     
  13. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    That is my goal but I rarely get through everything in a quarter. I'm working hard to make that a priority though. I'd like to regain some filing space. My physical cabinets are getting too full to easily file new things.
     
  14. Ship69

    Ship69 Registered

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    The thing about clutter is that it simply gets on the way!
    e.g. Within a subject A-Z system, you may like to keep papers (e.g. letters) in strict date order, but the problems start when you have little or no idea what actual date something happened on. Also within the same hanging file you might want to separate out certain different types of thing such as say statements, from communications & letters. And if anything gets out of place, if there are too many papers it can quickly become a nightmare to find it.

    Likewise to take a simple example I like to keep all car (automobile) stuff under "Car". But within Car I have different sections, depending on the exact subject. I like to keep a historical archive of receipts & information for servicing and work done, but I also have a separate section for crucial paperwork e.g. MOT cert, live insurance papers, proof of ownership etc.
     
  15. Oogiem

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    We have a different interpretation of A-Z order then. First off, for me if the item is date critical then it's in the folder name so for example I have folders Flock Record 1997 through Flock Records 2017. They are all under F in order so the older folders are in front of the newer folders. Within a single year it's no big deal to sort it as each folder is fairly small. I have to keep the sheep records for federal inspections but only when the Federal Vet comes do I need the paper records.

    I don't use hanging files except as a way to hold my regular file folders. They are not labeled and have no meaning, it's just convenient since I don't have follow blocks in all my file cabinet drawers. So I'd never have a hanging folder with several categories of stuff that are related because I don't file that way.

    Take your other examples: The way I'd file the car stuff is I have a folder Dodge Truck that's where general information goes, and one Dodge Truck Repairs for repair and maint. records. Ownership documents are in Dodge Truck Legal Papers and are actually located in a fire proof safe in a secure area. Our truck insurance is under Insurance - Farm because it is a farm truck and registered that way. I have other insurance folders too, such as Insurance - Health and Insurance - Business folders. I don't keep receipts separate by vehicle but I do keep farm, vs computer business vs personal receipts separate. I scan them at the end of the year. If I'm audited I can easily go back and find them and why clutter up my paper filing with that sort of junk? If the item is something that has a warranty I'll staple the receipt to instructions or owners manual and file it under Equip.- Item and those are filed alphabetically

    My rule of thumb is if any folder gets to be fatter than half an inch I need to sort and divide it. Otherwise it can be cumbersome to sort.

    Another rule of thumb is to define filing by how often I will need to get the information. If it's something I am working on constantly and I am always searching for that document from within a folder of stuff I'll just make a new folder for that one single document. OTOH if I only look for it once a year or once every couple of years then why bother making too many divisions, it's harder to mange and keep up that way. I think I've had to go bak to my old flock records about once every 2-3 years. So just because it takes me a few extra minutes to find the document that's not much compared to the hours I'd spend filing if I tried to keep it more finely organized.

    Make your filing simple and easy. As David Allen says, if you don't feel comfortable making a file folder for a single sheet of paper then your filing system is too complex. I am paraphrasing but I know I've heard that from his writings multiple times.
     
  16. Ship69

    Ship69 Registered

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    > I don't use hanging files.
    I am confused. What other system is there?
    How do do you get away with NOT using hanging files?
    And how do you get away with not labelling them?

    > why clutter up my paper filing with that sort of junk
    So that I can quickly see all repairs that have been done to my car.
    So that if/when I sell my car I can hand over all the paperwork without going through all my receipts.

    > My rule of thumb is if any folder gets to be fatter than half an inch I need to sort and divide it
    Why not archive it?
    Particularly in the case of say personal letters.

    Also if it is something that you don't use on a predictable regular cycle e.g. say Medical appointments, then what?
    For these kind of ad hoc uses I find it hard to remember how I have filed things

    e.g. Suppose you needed to see a dermatologist on a (hopefully) one-off basis how would that be filed?
    If you are just using 1-tier you might have used say:
    A for "Appointments"
    C for "Consultants"
    D for "Dermatology"
    S for "Skin"

    Of if 2-tier then:
    M for "Medical - Appointments"
    M for "Medical - Dermatologist"
    M for "Medical - Skin"
    H for "Health - Dermatology"
    H for "Health - Dermatologist"
    H for "Health - Skin"
    H for "Hospitals - Dermatology"

    Or if 3-tier then:
    H for "Health - Medical - Dermatologist"
    H for "Health - Hospitals - Dermatologist"
    N for "National Health Service - Consultants - Dermatologist"
    M for "Medical - Dermatology"
    M for "Medical - Skin"

    etc.

    I mean if it's a genuine one-off surely one wouldn't create a special dedicated file for it, in which case where would one put it?!

    Or worse, maybe it's a complex condition involving more than one topic? And/or maybe without the paperwork you can't even remember what technical name the medics are giving it?(!)
    e.g. Was it something you eat that you might be allergic to that has been causing the skin condition? So was it filed under "A" for Allergy, or "D" for Dietetics or "N" for Nutritionist ??
    Or maybe something to do with agricultural spays so was it filed under "S" for Sprays or "I" for Insecticides?

    And my central point is that the more stuff you have in the system the harder it is to remember how you have filed something!
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
  17. Gardener

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    For me, in the "main" level--the next level up from where you would have put the item if it had enough papers to justify its own folder.

    I tend to use what I refer to as the "Usenet" system for filing and for all sorts of sorting. Back in the days of the dinosaurs, Usenet was a bunch of forums on various topics. When a forum got too big, there would be a split. But the split ONLY happened based on traffic. So if there was suddenly a huge flurry of posts about, say, cooking duck, that would NOT trigger some huge per-meat split like:

    rec.food.cooking
    rec.food.cooking.beef
    rec.food.cooking.chicken
    rec.food.cooking.duck
    etc., etc., etc.

    Instead, the split would be:
    rec.food.cooking
    rec.food.cooking.duck

    because only duck had the extra traffic. Beef, chicken, etc., would just stay in rec.food.cooking.

    So if I have only a little bit of gardening stuff, it would all be in one folder. If I suddenly started breeding daylilies, the filing might look like:

    Gardening
    Gardening--Daylilies

    All the stuff about roses and violets and tomatoes and everything else would be in 'Gardening'.
     
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  18. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    Oh Boy where to start....

    Ordinary file folders. They are standard manila folders and I create labels for them with my labeler. So I do label my manila folders I just don't use the little tabbed label holder things on hanging folders. Hanging folders are just carriers to me. For the drawers that have follow blocks I just put the folders in. If the drawer does not have a follow block then I use wide bottom hanging folders just to keep the manila folders from falling over since the drawers are not completely full.



    For the first I have all repairs as a project with the tasks in my list manager. As long as the tasks have been checked off the proper maintenance has been done. Since much of is is based on mileage I put the actions like changing oil and other stuff about 2-3 weeks before I expect to need to do it since I know pretty much how many miles I drive in a month or year.

    For the second I've never had anyone ever ask for any paperwork about repairs the few times I've sold vehicles. So unless I need the receipt for tax reasons because it's a farm vehicle I don't even bother to save any of those receipts unless there is a specific warranty on the parts. The places I go to get the vehicles serviced can print out a full list of everything I've ever had done to them for me if I chose. I've never needed it but I could. One of the best ways to reduce how much paper you have to sort through when filing things is reduce how much you save. There has to be a good reason to keep it for me to save it.

    Archive is just in my regular A-Z filing system. There is no difference between an archived file and any other piece of reference material. The minute you start sorting things into Archive Reference or Active Reference now you suddenly have 2 systems and you may not remember where the item is. Again, Simplify everything. With only 1 place it's easy to find stuff.

    Most of my personal letters I send are first done in electronic form. So they live on my computer system by year in a folder named 2017_Correspondence_Personal. Ones I receive are rarely kept. If they are something I want it's because they belong in either a genealogy file or are going to go into my scrapbooks. If the former they get filed in my main filing cabinet by the family name with other materials from that family. If the latter they go into the month it was received folder in my active projects files that I use as the place to keep memorabilia that I may use in scrapbooks. When I do scrapbook pages I sort and make a final decision on whether to include it then. If not I usually trash it. A few might get scanned and saved electronically but that is very rare.


    I don't have anything to file for medical appointments. They are on my calendar. If I need to bring something like test results then they are filed in my tickler file for the day of the appointment. My doctors use electronic record systems and I have access to all my records all the time through the hospital computer system.

     
  19. RS356

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    My genealogy files stand alone from my general A-Z reference, but the concept is the same. I have a four file boxes - one per grandparent. Within each, every person gets their own folder, filed alphabetically. Family relationships are determined by the pedigree charts I file at the front of each box. I'm comfortable in separating these files because 1) my research is a discreet area of focus that doesn't overlap with others, and 2) I view them as not as personal files, but rather belonging to the family; I wouldn't want my heirs to inadvertently toss them along with my old tax returns. Truly irreplaceable historic documents are stored in a safe deposit box at the bank. To this end, I keep a checklist of contents and access instructions in each file box.
     
  20. Oogiem

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    That is a brilliant idea. I've been using the filing system from the book "Organizing Your Family History Search" by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack.
    I've been using a different color file folder for genealogy stuff. I think I will pull it all out into a separate drawer though as you are correct, it might get inadvertently thrown away if it's in the main filing system.
     

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