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  • Help with setup of Filing and Supplies for Mobile Office

    Hi,

    I have been practicing GTD for about four years and have recently switched to a different role within my organisation, so rather than being permanently based at home and sharing desks at an office, I am now on the road selling about 60-70% of the time.

    I now have a dedicated desk at our main office which has a pedestal drawer with spaces for stationery supplies and a single filing drawer, so I am fully organised and very productive when at the office, but it's when I am on the road or at home (which is most of the time) that I am struggling with how/where to store work files and stationery leaving stuff all over the place and it is hampering my productivity.

    I have a small two drawer filing cabinet at home that is full with personal filing without being able to put work filing and project support materials in it as well, I also have a cupboard style desk with doors on the front and this doesn't have any drawers to hold regularly used stationery and processing tools.

    In essence, I need to work the following out:

    1. What to do with work-based active project support and reference files
    2. Do I really need to have all processing tools (Sticky Notes, Pens, Pads, Paper Clips, Binder Clips, Fresh Files, Labelling Machine and Labels) in a bag at all times?
    3. How can I organise the supplies at home and when travelling?

    I tend to switch between three bags depending on the type of travel and duration:

    1. Laptop Backpack for casual working in coffee shops or when at the office with no meetings.
    2. Small messenger style laptop bag for professional meetings
    3. Combined Carry On Suitcase/Laptop bag for overnight stays and international travel.

    Apologies for rambling, but I really need to get something done with this before it drives me mad!

    Ross.

  • #2
    Consider going totally electronic

    From your post it sounds like the only thing you can really rely on is having your laptop around. I don't know how much stuff you need to be paper in your role, but consider going electronic as possible. I know you don't have a scanner on the road, but I've been using my iPhone camera as a capture tool and that seems to be working pretty well. All my files are now digital, I keep notes in OneNote, and there is even a StickyNotes in Office for easy capturing. When my computer is not on I have a OneNote iPhone app that I collect on, and can sync when the computer is on. The only hardcopy documents I have are those required for meetings, which I try and keep to a bare minimum. I quite like it and it's very portable (apart from the weight of the laptop).

    Comment


    • #3
      Where are the functional "cracks"?

      A couple of things right off the bat: I would think about having a duplicate set of office supplies (e.g. paperclips, sticky notes and the like) at your "work" office and at your "home" office. For the "portable" office, I would pare down and just have a small pouch or pencil case that carries the bare necessities. Think about how much processing you actually do on the fly and "pack" your pouch accordingly...

      I find with a lot of travel - especially international - that paper is a lot less anxiety-inducing for me. Yes, potentially heavier, although you don't need a honking great planner for lists & diary - you could survive with a smaller, "personal" size (Filofax, for example)... Then you're not worrying about syncing, charging, etc. on the road. I realise this is an "old school" approach, and not for everyone. I would agree that the iPhone (or similar device) is great for capturing pictures of receipts, etc. and would recommend an Evernote account, which you can access on your laptop and mobile device.

      But the most important thing is to visualise what a seamless, stress-free set-up would look like, and then back up from there to the nitty-gritty!

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you.

        Originally posted by Suelin23 View Post
        From your post it sounds like the only thing you can really rely on is having your laptop around. I don't know how much stuff you need to be paper in your role, but consider going electronic as possible. I know you don't have a scanner on the road, but I've been using my iPhone camera as a capture tool and that seems to be working pretty well. All my files are now digital, I keep notes in OneNote, and there is even a StickyNotes in Office for easy capturing. When my computer is not on I have a OneNote iPhone app that I collect on, and can sync when the computer is on. The only hardcopy documents I have are those required for meetings, which I try and keep to a bare minimum. I quite like it and it's very portable (apart from the weight of the laptop).
        Hi Suelin,

        Thank you for your help and advice, it forced me to look not only at how to manage the paper I had, but also where and how the paper comes into my system. When I looked through the files that I had, I was able to move a lot of them back to the office as reference material that I hadn't accessed in quite a while that I wouldn't need on a regular basis.

        I scanned a lot of the current day to day projects to eliminate those files and also looked at WHAT the paper was that I was using and carrying around, this was mainly paper that I created and put into my workflow rather than paper that come in from the outside.

        My job involves designing and quoting security systems for buildings, so working through large, complex technical specification documents and building plans in PDF's, I realised that in the most part, I had been printing these documents and maps and then marking them up and drawing over them, I have since tried to annotate the specification document in Adobe Reader using the highlighting and commenting tools, but still need to find an application to annotate the plans and drawings, I should then be able to manage being around 70 - 80% paperless.

        Kind Regards,

        Ross.

        Comment


        • #5
          That's great, glad to hear it. I use AutoVue for marking up drawings, but I'm sure there are many other software programs around, and it's just a matter of finding one that's compatible. I find the more screen space you have the easier it is to work off the computer, so I often connect my laptop to a monitor but also use the laptop screen so I have two screens. At home I've bought a 27" widescreen monitor, which gives plenty of screenspace, and it makes it much easier when working with multiple documents.

          Comment


          • #6
            My functional cracks!

            Originally posted by CJSullivan View Post
            A couple of things right off the bat: I would think about having a duplicate set of office supplies (e.g. paperclips, sticky notes and the like) at your "work" office and at your "home" office. For the "portable" office, I would pare down and just have a small pouch or pencil case that carries the bare necessities. Think about how much processing you actually do on the fly and "pack" your pouch accordingly...

            I find with a lot of travel - especially international - that paper is a lot less anxiety-inducing for me. Yes, potentially heavier, although you don't need a honking great planner for lists & diary - you could survive with a smaller, "personal" size (Filofax, for example)... Then you're not worrying about syncing, charging, etc. on the road. I realise this is an "old school" approach, and not for everyone. I would agree that the iPhone (or similar device) is great for capturing pictures of receipts, etc. and would recommend an Evernote account, which you can access on your laptop and mobile device.

            But the most important thing is to visualise what a seamless, stress-free set-up would look like, and then back up from there to the nitty-gritty!
            Hi Carolyn,

            Thanks for your helpful advice.

            My "work office" setup is, in opinion, perfectly tuned and optimised for work, however after visualising a seamless stress free setup, I realise one of the biggest issues to my productivity was due to not having drawers in my desk at home as I have a cupboard style desk in the corner of our dining room where at the end of the day I can close the doors and everything is hidden, the lack of organised storage for supplies meant that I am always keeping a pile of stuff on my desk or in a bag by my desk cluttering everything, so I have found a set of plastic drawers which will fit inside the "office cupboard" as there is space for a desktop PC tower which I am not using.

            Once I have the drawers, I can get a complete set of supplies for home and not have a load of junk hanging around.

            After also completing an overnight work trip I took more notice of what i used for processing, I was surprised that I only used paper clips, some sticky notes and a notepad and pen to process everything in my plastic folders and make notes on project support files, everything else was computer based. I always keep a notepad in my bag where ever I go, so I am going to put just a couple of pens, some paper clips and sticky notes in a small pencil case in my bag and see how things go.

            I have an iPhone and already use Evernote, so syncing and charging is not too much of an issue, my GTD lists in Omnifocus, email and calendar are all on the iPhone, so I think if I can reduce the amount of paper overall using the advice from Suelin and reduce the stationery and clutter based on your advice, I should be a lot more efficient.

            Thanks again for your help.

            Ross.

            Comment


            • #7
              PDFPen on iPad seems to be working well

              Originally posted by Suelin23 View Post
              That's great, glad to hear it. I use AutoVue for marking up drawings, but I'm sure there are many other software programs around, and it's just a matter of finding one that's compatible. I find the more screen space you have the easier it is to work off the computer, so I often connect my laptop to a monitor but also use the laptop screen so I have two screens. At home I've bought a 27" widescreen monitor, which gives plenty of screenspace, and it makes it much easier when working with multiple documents.
              I have a 22" external monitor connected to my corporate laptop to plenty of real estate and its sometimes useful to extend the desktop across both when working on some tasks.

              Based on comments from the Mac Power Users Podcast (I am an aspiring Mac owner in future), I purchased PDFpen for iPad and have found this to work well for marking up building plans and using Dropbox to move data around.

              The standard Acrobat Reader for Windows works well for the large technical submission document review and text markup but doesn't allow drawing shapes in PDF's, so I will see how this works combining the PC and iPad together.

              Comment

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