Effective @Reference Filing

gtdChamp

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Hi all,
Just starting my journey in the GTD world. I had read the book many years back but never got the system working let alone fall off the wagon, I was never on the wagon :).

While I'm working on finalizing the clarifying and organizing process, I'm curious what others are using for their reference system which has worked for them?
I'm almost 99.95% digital. 99% of my information / reference will be digital and many of reference sources are acquired via email. When I'm clarifying (triaging) my emails one at a time, when you land on an email which is a reference item (I'm still a bit confused about incubation & reference, if you park an item as reference to review later, isn't that incubating it?). I have few options that I can think so:
1) Create a @Reference folder in your Outlook folder list and move the email there
2) Extract info from the email (links/attachments/etc.) and save it in Reference OneNote Book
3) Save the physical email In a digital folder filing system (which is local on my computer, but is synced to the cloud)

Lets say you get an email from GTD Connect monthly / or weekly and you can't read/process/learn it in under 2 minutes, you want to save it as reference in your GTD project support material resources, and add task in your someday/maybe list to review this?

Trying to understand what has worked for others.
I'm in the Microsoft eco system (Outlook/MS Todo, OneNote, Onedrive for business) - I'm an Office 365 Power user but rough on GTD methodology.
Cheers
 

mcogilvie

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I don’t think digital has made it all easier. What do you do with your digital reference files now? What’s in your current system? Do you need or want to include past projects? Receipts? Reports? Work information? Personal information? Is email ok right now? Is there confidential information you need to store securely? What about personal versus private stuff? Are you a Swiss Army knife person (one tool for everything), or more of a big toolbox person?

My primary reference filing system is in Dropbox, synced to everything. My employer uses Box, but everyone I work with drops files in my Box home directory because they don’t know better, so it’s useless except for receiving information. Email stays in email folders. I use other tools to store project plans (Markdown), persistent personal reference (Apple Notes), and secure information (1Password).
 

ivanjay205

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If you are a Microsoft person I think I would use OneNote for reference. I find that reference needs to be in a place that really allows good note capture. You could make a OneNote section titled Reference and different pages for different aspects.

If using software tagging helps. For example I use FacileThings and have a reference file "agenda" per DA and I tag the person I meet with. This way when I meet with someone I can search their name and it pulls up their notes and any tasks related to them
 

Oogiem

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I have few options that I can think so:
1) Create a @Reference folder in your Outlook folder list and move the email there
2) Extract info from the email (links/attachments/etc.) and save it in Reference OneNote Book
3) Save the physical email In a digital folder filing system (which is local on my computer, but is synced to the cloud)

Lets say you get an email from GTD Connect monthly / or weekly and you can't read/process/learn it in under 2 minutes, you want to save it as reference in your GTD project support material resources, and add task in your someday/maybe list to review this?
I am in a totally Microsoft free environment so my tools will not work for you but my tactic is to always move or copy emails out of the email system as I process them. In Appple Mail I do have a folder called reference, where basically everything that is not trash goes. If the email contains a greater than 2 minute action I extract out the part that is the action and add it to my Omnifocus task list. If the email is something I want to read and review I copy the email to my DEVONThink folder of stuff to read. Then the original message goes into my reference folder. Once a month I clean out the oldest months' worth of messages in Reference and Sent folders into my external DEVONThink database for archived email. So my Apple mail system never has more than about a years worth of messages in it but I have an archive in DEVONThink that is decades long.

All attachments are always downloaded. From there if they are action support for a current project they go into that project's folder after modifying the title to match my way of labeling files. If they are general reference they go into the File_Cabinet folder in the folder that matches the subject.
 

Gardener

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you want to save it as reference in your GTD project support material resources, and add task in your someday/maybe list to review this?
A side note: I distinguish between Reference and To Read, so for me, this wouldn't land in Reference until after I've read it and decided that it might have some long-term value for me.

This also means that I wouldn't add a Someday/Maybe task tied specifically to this item--instead, I'd have some sort of ongoing 'keep up with reading' project, and I'd dump the item into a To Read folder.
 

TamaraM

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I have few ways for dealing with email, depending on why I want to keep the info.
  • Emails that introduce things I need to do now, or triggered at a later date, become Next Actions. Useful information from future emails get their contents dumped into those existing Actions.
  • Emails related to major current projects go into an Outlook subfolder for that project as Resource Materials and, if action-y, Actions are created as well. Those folders get "dumped" into my main business email folder upon project completion.
  • Emails related to non-major or deferred projects, areas of focus, or any topic I have a OneNote reference page for, I extract the info and any links and drop them onto the appropriate page. We also keep business meeting agendas in shared OneNote notebooks, so I might copy the information there for sharing. I occasionally structure a project page to accommodate inserted email files in their entirety, if it's a project that's really email heavy.
  • Emails that contain info that have triggered a Someday/Maybe thought get dragged into a renamed task in my Someday/Maybe task folder.
 

aderoy

Registered
For Microsoft OS there is a mail archive program that will archive and allow for quick easy searching, of course it is freeware for many.
MailStore Home can be found here: https://www.mailstore.com/

I have this in use for mails from 2009 thru 2018 across a couple different e-mail programs (Pegasus, Mulberry, Becky! and Outlook) which is rather handy due to job changes or application switch over.

For macOS Mail Stewart: https://mailsteward.com/

At one time I was archiving by folder then to month/year since searching by word/phrase has become more available/speedy.
 
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