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  • A to Z filing is confusing me. Help!

    I read GTD twice now and while I feel that I understand most of the book, the "a to z" filing system for general reference materials remains a mystery. What I'm picturing is one file folder for each letter: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h,... w, x, y, z. And if you get a bank account summary where no action is required but that you want to file, you would then file it into the "b" file, for bank.... or is the "r" file for Royal Bank (the name of the bank)??? This is what confuses me. I can see myself filing similar files in various different letters. Another examples, let's say I've paid my phone bill and want to file it. Do I put it into "p" for phone or "t" for telephone or "v" for Virgin (the name of the telephone company)????

    Perhaps I'm completely misunderstanding the system. Can someone please clarify this A-Z system and how exactly to use it without confusion? Thanks.

  • #2
    I think you've misinterpreted the information.

    Buy a set of A-Z tabs or use file folders with individual letter labels so you can easily spot where one letter begins and another ends. Label folders containing files with meaningful names (theme, topic, person, project, etc) and put them in your filing system in alphabetical order behind the appropriate letter tab.

    "Royal Bank" goes under "R"
    "Nokia Cell Phone Manual" goes under "N"
    A file for Joe Smith would be labeled "Smith, Joe" and goes under "S"

    As the book suggests, make sure you have a good label maker and plenty of tape. You must be able to get your files from Inbox to File Cabinet in under 60 seconds with no resistance or you won't file things; you'll stack them instead.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for clarifying the A-Z system!

      Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
      Buy a set of A-Z tabs or use file folders with individual letter labels so you can easily spot where one letter begins and another ends. Label folders containing files with meaningful names (theme, topic, person, project, etc) and put them in your filing system in alphabetical order behind the appropriate letter tab.

      "Royal Bank" goes under "R"
      "Nokia Cell Phone Manual" goes under "N"
      A file for Joe Smith would be labeled "Smith, Joe" and goes under "S"
      OOOOOOHHHHH. That makes sense! Thank you! Now I can finally put all the pieces together. What a relief. THANKS!

      Comment


      • #4
        You can also group A-Z items.

        Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
        "Royal Bank" goes under "R"
        "Nokia Cell Phone Manual" goes under "N"
        You can also group A-Z items:

        Bank - Royal
        Bank - Goldman
        Bank - Visa
        ...
        Phone - Blackberry Torch
        Phone - iPhone 4
        Phone - Nokia E71
        ...

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
          I think you've misinterpreted the information.

          Buy a set of A-Z tabs or use file folders with individual letter labels so you can easily spot where one letter begins and another ends. Label folders containing files with meaningful names (theme, topic, person, project, etc) and put them in your filing system in alphabetical order behind the appropriate letter tab.

          "Royal Bank" goes under "R"
          "Nokia Cell Phone Manual" goes under "N"
          A file for Joe Smith would be labeled "Smith, Joe" and goes under "S"

          As the book suggests, make sure you have a good label maker and plenty of tape. You must be able to get your files from Inbox to File Cabinet in under 60 seconds with no resistance or you won't file things; you'll stack them instead.
          Personally I dont bother with the letter tabs since my filing only comes to four drawers. With letters on the front and the tabs on each folder popping up its easy to find your letters quickly.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think David says in the book that the A-Z file set allows you to stop going numb to get back/retrieve the piece of information you're looking for.
            That way, it doesn't matter if Nokia phone warranty card goes in "N" (for Nokia), "P" (for phone) or "W" (for Warranties), as long as you're able to remember that it can only be in those 3-4 places.
            How you divide the content of your filing system is up to you.

            Comment


            • #7
              I'd agree - you soon get to rememebr which folder you put things in. I'm a grouping person, so I have for example three folders for credit cards, one for each company.

              To start with it may help to have a list of the folder names stuck to the filing cabinet, so you can quickly scan it. it stops you making a second folder for a topic by mistake, and allows you to find the most likely folder you put something in without having to physically search the cabinet.

              Ruth

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by RuthMcT View Post
                To start with it may help to have a list of the folder names stuck to the filing cabinet, so you can quickly scan it. it stops you making a second folder for a topic by mistake, and allows you to find the most likely folder you put something in without having to physically search the cabinet.
                Good idea. Also, for me at least if I go back to look for a file and can't find it where I originally looked, when I do finally find the file I either change its name and re-file where I originally looked, or make a file for where I originally looked with a single sheet of paper saying the information X is actually in file folder Y.

                And I try to clear out duplicates or similar files once a year.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Great points all around.

                  I've been working on my filing since last night and will continue some tonight.

                  Please tell me if I'm on the right track:

                  I have five file drawers, each one with a dedicated filing system for:
                  - tickler
                  - general reference
                  - project reference
                  - two extras for expansion/later

                  For the general reference, I've been populating it with both of my business reference files. For instance, for my one business (www.stonehomephoto.com), I create a series of files with the label "SHPV:", to which I attach a new label as I need. So far I have the following: SHPV: Invoices, SHPV: Tax, SHPV: Photo How-To, SHPV: Marketing, SHPV: Website. This way, whenever I want to file something related to my stonehomephoto business, I just go to SHPV and add it to the correct file. If that file doesn't exist--say I decide I need a file for a new topic like articles of interest related to my business--I just create a new one with the SHPV prefix.

                  Am I on the right track here? I can't imagine stuffing all my SHPV files into one file... but then I'm not sure if my categorization is effective/efficient? Suggestions, recommendations?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Bump. Anyone?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Your SHPV system sounds fine. I have a similar set at work. I'm responsible for our immunisation programme so I have

                      Imms - national programme
                      Imms - teaching
                      Imms - hepatitis B implementation
                      Imms - newsletter
                      Imms - clinic
                      etc etc
                      (I've got 10 immunisation files all together)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Personally I have my home stuff in a really simple a-z filing system

                        so Royal Bank is either in B for bank or R for Royal - and it actually works for us.
                        Some things are put in sub folders to make them easier to find within that system - but honestly it is really quick to find things

                        For work I am meticulous with lots of sub folders, so different conditions have their own sub folders, so anorexia is under a, but also general allergy information, and anemia - each has a sub folder in the A section

                        I go for as little complexity as is necessary to do the job.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RuthMcT View Post
                          Your SHPV system sounds fine. I have a similar set at work. I'm responsible for our immunisation programme so I have

                          Imms - national programme
                          Imms - teaching
                          Imms - hepatitis B implementation
                          Imms - newsletter
                          Imms - clinic
                          etc etc
                          (I've got 10 immunisation files all together)
                          Thanks. Glad I'm on track. But boy do I have many folders in my reference drawer!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If I have a truly distinct area of focus, I just do an A - Z filing system for it. Examples include a major project, long term goal or an organization like a charity. This is usually a drawer by itself. This avoids for me having to do labels like Charity - Agenda, Charity - September 2010 event etc.

                            Good luck

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have a discrete A-Z filing system for Clients. Just instead of adding a prefix to each label ('Client' in my case), it has its own special section - time saving.

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