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  • Filing "stuff" for multiple organizations with similar processes

    Greetings GTD veterans! I'm a newbie, just getting started with GTD. I work with and co-advise seven different honor society chapters and the campus-wide Honors Program at a large community college. Much of my work is dedicated to processing applications, ordering new membership materials from parent organizations, working with students to plan events, attending conferences and meetings, and overseeing their financial transactions. I'm preparing to put my simple filing system together and am wondering if any others of you were faced with the decision to sub-categorize according to "Areas of Focus" or stick with the simple A-Z file system and specify a commonly-used file name followed by the title of the Area of Focus. (For example: Each group will have meetings for which I will keep agendas and minutes for a few years. Will it be more efficient (or are there advantages) to file these documents into folders with labels that read: "Meetings - Group A," "Meetings - Group B," etc. or should they be set up as "Group A: Meetings" with each of the other categories of filed documents surrounding that folder, such as "Group A: Events," "Group A: Invoices paid"?) If I go the route of using a system that begins with Areas of Focus, is there an advantage to keeping the grouped files separate from all of my other "across-the-board/applies-to-all-groups" A-Z files? Thanks for any insights you can offer!

  • #2
    How will you look for it?

    When you need to get to the details of meetings what do you think of first? "I need to find the meeting notes." or "I need the notes on Group A and it was a meeting."

    Personally I have 1 large A-Z system. Within is one grouping like you mentioned Equip. - Item where item is the particular thing. That's where I keep manuals, warranty info and anything else related to physical things we own. I have 3 entirely separate filing systems for 3 distinct filing needs. One each in A-Z format for files related to the 2 organizations where I am a board member and one for my genealogical files because they follow a very specific format by surname.

    The problem with categorizing things by AOF is what happens when a file crosses boundaries? It may not happen to you much but it sure does to me. I quickly lost track of stuff when I had multiple files like that.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by HonorsRUs View Post
      Will it be more efficient (or are there advantages) to file these documents into folders with labels that read: "Meetings - Group A," "Meetings - Group B," etc. or should they be set up as "Group A: Meetings" with each of the other categories of filed documents surrounding that folder, such as "Group A: Events," "Group A: Invoices paid"?)
      To decide this, I would ask myself questions like this:
      • How likely will I have folders about "Meetings" that are not for one of these clearly-defined groups? E.g. they could be for some smaller group for which I have a meeting folder but no other folder; there could be joint meetings involving more than one group; you might have general material about meetings such as how to run an effective meeting, etc. Compare this to: how likely will I have folders for each group that don't fit into one of the categories such as "Meetings"?
      • When I'm looking for something about a meeting about Group A, how will I feel if I'm flipping through nearby folders about other groups? Or how will I feel if I'm flipping through nearby folders about other aspects of Group A? Will this trigger unpleasant emotions or be distracting? Or might it trigger useful associations (e.g. oh, yeah, here's that other folder about Group A; maybe I'll bring that to the meeting).
      • How much ambiguous stuff is there -- things that are kindof about Group A but kindof not; or stuff that's kindof about Meetings but kindof not, e.g. about conference phone calls.
      • How much ambiguity is there in the titles -- e.g. will you forget that things are filed under "Meetings" and try to look for it under "Agenda" or "Minutes" or something instead? Do the groups have different names you might think of them as, e.g. "Association of X" or just "X" or an acronym "AOX"?
      • As Oogie said, where will you look for it?

      If you quit one of the groups, it will be easier to move all related folders into a box in the basement or whatever if all the material for that group is together.

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