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  • Resources for Getting Files Under Control

    I am getting ready to reorganize my filing system. Having read David's books, I'm guilty of mixing reference and active files together. This is going to be a huge project. What resources are available that have been most helpful to others in sorting and re-establishing new files?

  • #2
    Originally posted by debbieg View Post
    I am getting ready to reorganize my filing system. Having read David's books, I'm guilty of mixing reference and active files together.
    That is pretty much what I do and haven't found it a problem. My current project files for my current active projects are near my tickler but all someday maybe project files and reference files are in the same big filing system in my 4 filing cabinets.

    When I reorganized mine I just pulled out all the files from a single cabinet drawer, then labeled them with my at the time spiffy new label maker. I sorted them alphabetically and put them back into the same drawer. Took out the next drawers' worth of files, labeled them and then pulled half the files from drawer one into the now empty drawer and sorted the newly labeled ones in order into those 2 clean drawers. I kept doing that and eventually all 14 file cabinet drawers had been pulled out, sorted and re-labeled. I used that as the opportunity to also weed out a bunch of old files and scan to electronic versions some other old files.

    That was a couple years ago and I'm seriously thinking I need to do the exact same thing again, because I bought follow-blocks for my filing cabinets and I have to empty the drawers to install them. Plus it will give me a chance to again prune and edit the files and get rid of unneeded stuff.

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    • #3
      The last time I re-worked my files I took care of a few each day until the task was done. If I'm remembering correctly, I had a goal of 10-15 per day and simply set the task up as a recurring, untimed note on my calendar until all of the files were done.

      The other option would be to identify a day when you don't have any scheduled appointments and try to work through as many as you can all at once. I find, though, that I get bored/sloppy pretty quickly for tasks that are necessary but utterly boring (which is how I'd characterize clearing out files!) if I try to do too much in one sitting.

      Good luck!

      --Marc

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      • #4
        Originally posted by debbieg View Post
        I'm guilty of mixing reference and active files together.
        Do you mean to say you're guilty of mixing actionable and non-actionable things together? If you have unprocessed stuff hiding in those files then what you need is a complete review of all of your reference files to locate and process all of that "stuff". Nothing should cross the threshold of your reference filing system until all of the outcomes and current actions have been identified and organized in your lists.

        If you've done that and everything in your filing system is strictly reference material then there's no need to separate active vs inactive files. By doing that you complicate your simple A-Z system. It also introduces temptation to use your files as reminders of your projects; something you don't want to do.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
          Do you mean to say you're guilty of mixing actionable and non-actionable things together? If you have unprocessed stuff hiding in those files then what you need is a complete review of all of your reference files to locate and process all of that "stuff". Nothing should cross the threshold of your reference filing system until all of the outcomes and current actions have been identified and organized in your lists.
          Interesting viewpoint, I'm not sure how to handle that though. For example, I have some folders in my paper filing system and some in my electronic system that consist of possible someday maybe ideas and notes or support for someday maybe projects. I certainly haven't defined an outcome nor are any of the actions related to those items on any list other than my on-hold projects as a someday/maybe project. Only if and when I decide to make it an active currently being worked on project will I go to the bother of defining the outcome and actions.

          For me my filing system only works if everything is in there. So that includes not just reference but also someday/maybe and future project files and data. Those latter ones would be my "active" files that are included in the filing system.

          However, it has all been processed and I have a link in my Omnifocus system to the folders for future reference.

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          • #6
            Keeping it simple

            In some of the other forum threads people have mentioned using Personal Brain and other software like Evernote. I am going with the simple approach.
            Hardcopy folders - for key resources that need to be shared with others and easily at hand.
            Electronic folders - on our group drive and my own personal drive, with a folder per topic.
            Word document for literature - annotated bibliography, the reference plus a paragraph to summarise the document.
            In my project plan document I am creating an annoted bibliography as I read each document, when I close out the project I am going to finalise the summary and transfer it to the reference annotated bibliography.

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