Digital reference files: how do you approach it?

Carlos

Registered
My Digital Reference is in Google Drive (I use Mac with column view)
General Reference Directory.png
GoogleDriveDirectories.png
Top Level Hierarchy is:
0 Inbox
1 Project Support
2 General Reference
3 Completed Projects (& Inactive)​

Color Coded across all apps I use: Red = Hot = actionable, Blue = Cold = Not Actionable. Very useful, would recommend

I have a very small filing stand on my desk for originals like passport, ssn, & my checkbook, and I keep enough space in there for active documents I'm not sure if I can throw away yet like recent receipts still under the return policy and recent finance/legal mail where the original is just more convenient if something pops up in the next month.

besides that, all paper goes into my physical in tray to be digitized or eliminated on the next processing

What I still haven't integrated fully are Chrome bookmarks and Google Keep.
Google Keep is the most natural way for me to capture
  • medium length thoughts from my phone
  • combined media like a picture of a beer I really liked with two sentences about why
What I'm going to try is to treat Google Keep as another Digital In Tray, where everything gets archived once added to a tag. I'll use the tags in Google Keep as if they were Folder names in my "2 General Reference" directory. and keep some of my reference lists there like "Beer I liked" "Food I liked" "Architecture I like" etc.
 

ERJ1

Jedi Master
I just made a switch in this area today as I realized something. Put this as still in test mode but I'm excited about it. I switched my work system from OneNote to just using....Windows Explorer, Microsoft Office and OneDrive. Of course this would work on a mac as well. I am going to use Google Drive for my personal system when I get a chance to move that. I realized that a few things were bothering me and a new and very simple way to solve them.

  1. Limited and inconsistent hierarchy. In OneNote, Evernote and other apps I've tried, you always have Notebooks, Stacks, Lists, Projects, Sections, Links, etc. I try to limit my hierarchy of things to 3 levels deep but trying to jam this into the above list of elements in different apps was annoying. I realized from rereading the Organize chapter in GTD today that these all can be represented by Folders. David mentioned that all you really need is folders and lists. In the digital world, I started thinking that all I need are folders and lists of folders, which are just folders too. So all I need are folders in that vein.
  2. I wanted to be free to add a bunch of support material to any action, project, waiting for, someday/maybe, etc without them getting lost in the shuffle. My thought process started from realizing that what I really wanted was for each of these categories of stuff to act like a folder where I can place as much as I want in them and anything I want. I can even create multiple subfolders for a project and represent large category filing. If I create a folder for each next action, then a parent folder called Next Actions, when I look in my Next Actions folder I have a list of next actions with the support materials right there. GTD doesn't require fancy due date handling and such. I can just add a Due Date to the Folder name like I would using a plain text list.
  3. I couldn't put anything into a OneNote or Evernote notebook. There would still be a small amount of stuff that didn't fit as well in there like source code, files I receive, PowerPoint Presentations, etc. I thought that I'd love to just have all that reference material in one place. Folders let me do that. I can put any file in a file folder.
With those problems solved, I thought that there would be a drag with not using a notebook app where switching between pages and sections were quick. I'd have to double click on a file and open it and wait longer for Word or Docs to load it and that would create too much drag in the process. However, after actually trying it, I realized Word only loads slow on the first file. Also, I realized that both Google Drive, OneDrive and Windows (not sure about Mac) let you see a preview image of many files when looking at them. This made it easier to see if a file had what i wanted. You can also set up the view to have a larger preview image show up on the right. This actually made it easier to find something than in a notebook app.

Anyways, like I said, I'm still testing this but it might work real well and it's also free with Windows and very cheap with Google Drive if I go over my 15 GB. Not a problem with OneNote but I've found myself hitting Evernote's free limit. Also, I don't have to spend money on an expensive to do application. Back in the day, I could spend money and try out new apps. Usually this led me to wasting money because I'd switch so often. Having the constraint of wanting to stick to a budget has made me smarter and more judicious about my system. I've tried my best to capture the simplicity that David Allen talks about where I don't get distracted by something having a bunch of features that can be traps to wasting time. That last point has been important with my personality because I tend to let myself want to play with every little feature and get sidetracked.

Side Note: Still using Outlook/Gmail for Email. That doesn't really change or I haven't thought of a good way of unifying email/folders yet that works for me.
How's this going for you? I'm struggling to conceptualize my digital reference system and I'm moving a lot of my cloud storage to OneDrive instead of Google Drive. I'm finding trying to shoehorn stuff into a note taking app a bit... archaic. Seems like this comes from a time when Evernote was the best and easiest option to store digital reference. Nowadays, I feel like it would literally just be easier to use folders and keep stuff in a cloud drive.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
How's this going for you? I'm struggling to conceptualize my digital reference system and I'm moving a lot of my cloud storage to OneDrive instead of Google Drive. I'm finding trying to shoehorn stuff into a note taking app a bit... archaic. Seems like this comes from a time when Evernote was the best and easiest option to store digital reference. Nowadays, I feel like it would literally just be easier to use folders and keep stuff in a cloud drive.
I find the issue for me now is who do I trust. Not only in the sense of not abusing my trust, but in the sense of trustworthy and robust security. All the major players seem to have solved sync and uptime. I hope their backup practices are robust. Google, Microsoft, Apple? Dropbox or Box? Magic eightball says: Reply hazy, try again later.
 

ERJ1

Jedi Master
I find the issue for me now is who do I trust. Not only in the sense of not abusing my trust, but in the sense of trustworthy and robust security. All the major players seem to have solved sync and uptime. I hope their backup practices are robust. Google, Microsoft, Apple? Dropbox or Box? Magic eightball says: Reply hazy, try again later.
Yeah, I mean... at the end of the day I can't say I "trust" any of them truly and deeply. I've always kept an external HD with a back up of everything I keep in the cloud, as well as a back up on my PC.

So far, I've surprisingly found OneDrive to be the most convenient. As a Windows user, I can easily pop stuff into and out of it.
 
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