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Why, then, organize when you can search?

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  • Why, then, organize when you can search?

    Just a fool question.(But David said, it never hurts to ask the "why") so, Why Organize When You Can Search? It can be your notes, stuff in your computer, etc. Just Why? any benefits? and to a bigger picture, why you should organize your life? by categorizing things to be done.

  • #2
    For me the answer is:

    For me the answer is: to know there is nothing requiring action buried somewhere.

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    • #3
      I think Alexander meant reference material

      Originally posted by kkuja View Post
      For me the answer is: to know there is nothing requiring action buried somewhere.
      I think Alexander meant reference material, material you need/want to keep but with no action attached to it. And it's a good qestion. I know people who don't organise reference material in foldes and subfolders, just relying on a search to find what they need.

      I personally like to have some kind of structure. I'm a consultant, and I do like to have my files ordered by client or by type of activity. I don't think a search would be faster for me than clicking the client folder to find a specific document. Anyway, it would make me feel uncomfortable, so I wouldn't trust that system. But it might work for other people...

      Myriam

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      • #4
        Originally posted by AlexanderChow View Post
        Why Organize When You Can Search? It can be your notes, stuff in your computer, etc. Just Why? any benefits? and to a bigger picture, why you should organize your life? by categorizing things to be done.
        Because searching takes far too much time, uses up way too much energy and is totally frustrating.

        Sure, searching on a computer within computer files may work most of the time but search is totally worthless for searching paper reference material. My reference filing system for paper is 3 four drawer file cabinets plus 2 two drawer cabinets. If it wasn't organized I'd spend hours searching for stuff when I needed it. As it is I can usually lay my hands on the folder or paper I want within a minute or two. Occasionally I have to search within a folder, I have one set that is about 6 inches of papers, but I made a quick index for that folder so I know roughly where in the stack to go to find the item I need.

        Organizing also gives you a chance to see whether the item needs to be kept at all and if there are any buried action items or projects within that item.

        Lastly, just because *you* can search and find stuff within your stacks doesn't mean someone else can. If all of your tasks and action items had to be taken over and done by someone else with no warning would they have any clue how to pick up the pieces and carry on?

        Organizing in some relatively standard way is one step to enabling someone else to step into your shoes on an emergency basis if required. Another is cheat sheets or checklists of major tasks. Even if you don't normally use them having them documented is critical.

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        • #5
          Because if your stuff is properly organised then browsing is always faster than searching.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by AlexanderChow View Post
            Just a fool question.(But David said, it never hurts to ask the "why") so, Why Organize When You Can Search? It can be your notes, stuff in your computer, etc. Just Why? any benefits? and to a bigger picture, why you should organize your life? by categorizing things to be done.
            Well, I don't organize my email in the sense of dragging mails to folders. Email is inherently organized in several ways because it's tagged and searchable by sender, recipient, date, and so on. However, when I have an email that leads to a GTD action, I include, in the action, enough information to find the email. So that is, I suppose, organization by reference and tagging, instead of organization by filing.

            I could see doing this for a variety of other things - with a robust enough tagging or recordkeeping system, I could abandon a lot of "put similar things in the same bucket" organization. But that doesn't mean that the stuff isn't organized, it's just organized in a different way.

            I'd also say that sometimes those buckets are too stringently defined. For example, if I had extremely simple finances, I could see myself replacing a few dozen file folders with a single box labelled "2011 Finances" or even just "Finances", and dropping bank statements, credit card statements, bills, etc., in that box.

            So I'd say that a search system is only OK if (1) the search method is clearly defined, (2) there's assurance of finding the searched-for item and (3) the maximum search time is acceptably small. If I know that every bank statement is in the "Finances" box, and I know that I can find the one I need in less than fifteen minutes by digging through the box, and I rarely need a statement, then that method is perfectly acceptable - to me, that is.

            Gardener

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Myriam View Post
              I think Alexander meant reference material, material you need/want to keep but with no action attached to it. And it's a good qestion. I know people who don't organise reference material in foldes and subfolders, just relying on a search to find what they need.

              I personally like to have some kind of structure. I'm a consultant, and I do like to have my files ordered by client or by type of activity. I don't think a search would be faster for me than clicking the client folder to find a specific document. Anyway, it would make me feel uncomfortable, so I wouldn't trust that system. But it might work for other people...

              Myriam
              My answer still applies to me. Before GTD I had piles of reference material, which was not organized and I always had stress because I though there might be something requiring my attention in there. For me, organizing reference material is my definition that something doesn't require my attention anymore. (or reminder of required action is already in its place).

              I also organize my emails to email folders, because sometimes it's not obvious how message is related to project it is (people use poor subject lines, and content may not be searchable (for example image)). And I try to keep all electronic materials organized in folders.

              I just, few days ago, used two hours trying to find refence email, and ended up asking client to resend to me because it just could not be found. This is just one of my bad experiences with searhing electronic stuff.

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              • #8
                So, the difference is just the speed? If that's ture, I really doubt the value it brings to the table.
                Since one day, as technology advances, search speed will catch up with any manual navigation.

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                • #9
                  if you never organize things, you would end up having a google like system.
                  Google comes in handy when you need something. I think as long as things don't require your actions, it's fine to just put them quickly in the basket. The disadvantage I can think of is you hardly know what you have, which create a bit level of anxiety and a feeling of less control and thus a less relax life.

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                  • #10
                    Eye oponer

                    Originally posted by AlexanderChow View Post
                    if you never organize things, you would end up having a google like system.
                    Google comes in handy when you need something. I think as long as things don't require your actions, it's fine to just put them quickly in the basket. The disadvantage I can think of is you hardly know what you have, which create a bit level of anxiety and a feeling of less control and thus a less relax life.
                    This comment has been an magnificent eye oponer for me. In my dilemma of Google vs Mircrosoft for GTD I find Google quite useful for its versatility, mobility, etc., but in a way that I cannot explain it doesn´t give the peace of mind that a well structured Windows-based GTD system grants me.

                    Thanks

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                    • #11
                      a few thoughts on organizing and retrieving

                      I just looked up the antonym for retrieve and it was lose. What I was trying to find was the word or simple expression for putting things or ideas into categories by some attribute. I was hoping to find the word for creating an organizational scheme and the word for what you do when you put an item into it. Maybe one is something a reference librarian would create and the other a library clerk was "service".

                      So why organize? What the heck is it? Maybe classification and placement according to some attribute for some purpose.

                      To keep things accessible: that you use frequently, that when you need one you may need something related.

                      Because in the process of setting it up and retrieving you see connections and redundancies.

                      Why not just hodge-podge things? It depends on the degree of heterogeneity, the volume and how functional it is for you.

                      Sometimes it works for a certain class of items very well--I have box about 12" x10" by 6" labeled "odd parts and mystery objects" this works perfectly, within the family odd sock bin, I was spending too much time searching for a match so I categorized the socks by color and placed each color in a clear plastic bag. My dear friend keeps everything important in a pile on his desk. That would kill me but it works for him. A dear family member makes so many categories he can't remember what is in what (not functional). Some things just do not need to be put into plastic sleeves and alphabetized but if you need to keep a canonical set of original forms it might be a good idea.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by AlexanderChow View Post
                        So, the difference is just the speed? If that's ture, I really doubt the value it brings to the table.
                        Since one day, as technology advances, search speed will catch up with any manual navigation.
                        I'd say that it's not just speed, it's also whether you can find the item at all. If the search string either doesn't find the item, or it finds hundreds of thousands of items, it doesn't matter how fast the search runs.

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                        • #13
                          It depends, I think, on how much stuff you have, how much effort is involved in keeping it organized, how often you need to find something, and how much effort THAT takes.

                          I keep my household files organized because it's quick to put new items into the proper folder, and I need to be able to find things quickly often. Some of my digital data is similarly organized, some is in fact easier to search (archived email, for example, which I only infrequently need at all).

                          At our office, there are a number of paper documents that we need to keep (contracts, timesheets, etc.), but which we almost never need to access again once it's "filed". These literally get dumped into a box, labeled with the approximate dates, and put in a closet. The few times we've ever needed to retrieve something, the "search" time has been far less than the time it would have taken to organize all of that paper all along.

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                          • #14
                            I have been thinking it, our brain is kind of a network where related things are connected. For example, when I just ask you to give me 10 words whatever you can thing of. You will be surprised how few you can come up with.
                            But when I ask you to give me 10 words that related to a car. You would soon come up with things like, Benz , color, tire, wheel, driver, licence, road, police, etc.
                            So, if something has no boundaries of definition, it would wander in your brain, finding nowhere to hook on. And that creates anxiety and take you far longer time to decide what to do with it. Because it lost the connections to otherwise some useful informations and pre defined actions if any.

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                            • #15
                              So do you think that connections are more important than categories?
                              Also take a look at the main wikipedia categories
                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor...tal_categories
                              and try to find information about a certain topic (for example GTD) starting from those main categories and drilling down to bottom, how fast would that be? I'd say it's quite useless actually so this thread has a good question.

                              I mean sure some information is best to keep categorized like the gtd system. It has restricted entities, clear edges and so on.
                              However maybe some information shouldn't be categoriezed and searched for instead?
                              If it has unrestricted entities, no clear edges and so on...
                              What I think is that maybe you should use connections to whatever the topic is related to instead if using some Categories.
                              Project support material is a good example of this because it's connected to whatever you are doing and makes sense to you instead of being filed under lots of different categories...

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