Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.
alphabetizing has me stumped... Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • alphabetizing has me stumped...

    VERY new to all of this and only about half way through reading GTD, but must admit to being thrilled by this system as I "imagine" it in my future. I see a clarity to much of my chaos. I have looked at the past month or som of post and have not seen this issue raised however and it is stopping me in my tracks from moving forward.

    I am stumped by the "general reference" system. The idea of alphabetizing has occurred to me in the past and I could never quite figure out how it might work. Then as I read (and re-read two more times) the section about the A-Z filing system my confusion soared:

    from page 99: You can usually put at least on subset of topics on each label, like "Gardening- pots" and "Gardening - ideas." These would be filed under G. (end0

    Okay...so now what do I do with "gardening- plants"? Do I do another folder? What goes into the idea folder anyway? What do I do with summer crops (which need planting in the spring and visa versa... )

    I guess where I am headed with this question is: how do I keep from having dozens of folders for Gardening with each fold containg one piece of paper? I am missing something essential and I hope someone reading this can help clear this up for me.

    Or from another angle: car insurance, health insurance, term insurance, home insurance... all filed in the I section? or would car be in "C" the car section with car repairs, car warrenty, car tires, car battery info, gasoline reciepts...

    Help - as I write this I am getting even more crazed!!!

    tia Mckenna

  • #2
    Filing drives me crazy also. I personally follow the "if in doubt, file it" theory and as a result I file most everything. I personally use Paper Tiger software and label my folders using computer generated file labels, which isn't the GTD recommendation, but is just something I find easier than using a labeler. Also, with Paper Tiger, I have an electronic file index, which is really handy for me.

    Reference what to put into each individual folder and what name to label them, I would recommend grouping like items together so all insurance goes under Insurance-auto, Insurance-health, etc... I use a workbook called "Home Filing Made Easy" by Mary E. Martin and J. Michael Martin to help me set up my categories. I don't know if that work is still in print or not.

    In GTD, David offers the advise that you shouldn't be concerned that a file only has one piece of paper in it. On the othe hand, if you have only a few items with the subject of Gardening, it would probably make more sense just to keep adding them to the Gardening folder until that folder was big enough to subdivide. I guess the bottom line is that you should set up your filing system in a way that makes you comfortable.

    Hope this is useful.

    Dwight...

    Comment


    • #3
      filing

      The issue is ease--ease of creting new one, adding items to exisiting files and retrieving information when you need it. The most simple is A to Z, but smart people tend to want classify, Classify only when and how it will help abnd do not get hung up on it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: alphabetizing has me stumped...

        I guess where I am headed with this question is: how do I keep from having dozens of folders for Gardening with each fold containg one piece of paper? I am missing something essential and I hope someone reading this can help clear this up for me.

        Consider the Outcome of a Filing Project: "To retrieve any document in 20 seconds or less."

        Now, with the Outcome clearly in mind, setup whatever will accomplish that for you. How you label the file folders is critical because the material inside will be hidden. But nobody on this forum is going to be able to tell you the best place to file any particular document or group of documents; that's going to depend upon your own personal choice of words (and their place in the alphabet) which best helps you recall what is hidden in the folder. The label is a memory aid, as is the A-Z system of ordering those memory aids.

        You are the very best judge of where to file. And experience will tell you how well you did. If it takes more than 20 seconds to retrieve some long ago filed documents, then relabel that folder and refile it in the first place you did look for it. You'll eventually refine it to a smooth running system that works for you.

        Comment


        • #5
          alphabetizing has me stumped...

          OKAY... here is the "other part" of the question: There is a reference to NOT using hanging files...partly the reasoning is that it is harder to ad hoc make a new file. Later on the comment turns to the one file folder per hanger principle and well...the whole discussion just seems muddy.

          But here is the hardest thing to imagine about not using hanging files: If I am doing this alphabetically and I need to add a file I have some wiggle room in where I place the plastic index holders. But if I forego that and am stuck with the rigid "third cut" staggerings of regular files, wouldn't that be MUCH harder to "recalibrate" if I needed to add to the system when a folder gets too full.

          AND...the idea that you want to keep the files from getting too over stuffed seems easier to acomplish with hanging files also. If you are using manila folders and holding them upright using the "metal plate in the back" are you not always fighting tight quarters?

          I know I am getting pretty petty - but I will be putting a lot of time and energy and money and time as money and really don't want to be creating a system that defeats me in a few weeks or months.

          Again...everything else is DA is suggesting seems to be a dream come true. I really think he has a great insight. I just really can't ignore my "intuition" about the a-z situation.

          Thoughts? Please...

          Mckenna

          [/u]

          Comment


          • #6
            I've been using the hanging folders for years, but after listening to Dave's comments I began to ask myself "why?". Fact is, the hanging folders take up way too much room, theyre cumbersome, and they add a level of complexity you don't need in "General Reference" files.

            I still use hanging Pendaflex for client support documents (which for me are completely separate drawers), where an individual client file can be 1"=5" thick, but for GenRef I've completely changed over to simply putting the files directly in the drawer. It's no big deal to realign the metal support in the back, and when the drawer gets more than 3/4 full it's time to begin thinking about purging or reallocating.

            Another point: After having used nothing but third cut for years, I've found that GenRef works just fine using a mixture of fifth-cut and third-cut folders. Mixing them isn't problematic, so for short-named labels I use fifth cut and for longer-named labels I use third cut. With fifth-cut you can see more labels at a glance and the discipline of trying to keep the label short helps in better classifying on the front end of the process. For example, I would not think of using the name "Insurance-Homeowners" or "Insurance-Automobiles". It would be "Ins-Home", "Ins-Auto", etc.

            I totally agree that where you refine your filing task is on the retrieval side. Most things really can only be in 2-3 places, so if you find yourself searching too much for certain items, it's time to re-think how you originally filed them and change THAT PART of your system, not the whole system. I think the bottom line is; don't try to make it perfect at the outset - make it workable, follow it meticulously, and then refine through experience.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: alphabetizing has me stumped...

              Originally posted by mckenna
              But here is the hardest thing to imagine about not using hanging files: If I am doing this alphabetically and I need to add a file I have some wiggle room in where I place the plastic index holders. But if I forego that and am stuck with the rigid "third cut" staggerings of regular files, wouldn't that be MUCH harder to "recalibrate" if I needed to add to the system when a folder gets too full.
              I use the hanging folders because (a) my file cabinet doesn't have the follower blocks and (b) I find it easier to get files in and out when they are in hanging folders. But, the only hanging folders that are labelled are the 26 with "A" to "Z" on them. The "A" hanger contains the first file in the system, and every other file starting with "A" goes in its own (unlabelled) hanging folder behind. When I add a file, I just have to put an empty hanger in the right place and drop the file in.

              For the file folder cut issue, have you considered using folders all cut the same way instead of staggering them? Especially if you are using hanging folders, there should be enough separation between folders that you can flip through until you find the one you want. Although we are working off some old 1/3 left cut folders, we have purchased a box of full-cut (or no-cut depending on how you look at it). The full-width tabs will make it easier to put longer file names on the tab to be more descriptive about the contents.

              Claudia

              Comment


              • #8
                File Folders

                Mckenna:
                For years I've been using expanding folders to put my manila folders into. I used to use hanging folders but find the expanding ones much easier. You can rearrange your folders quickly and they keep the manila folders from falling over in your file cabinet.

                -Carlos

                Comment


                • #9
                  Marc:
                  In the GTD CD, in fact DA states that he'll make a file for single piece of paper, or even a single business card stapled to a sheet of paper. So the goal is not to avoid so many files, but in fact to HAVE so many.

                  McKenna:
                  I use the third cut manila folders and simply "disregard the cuts". In other words, if the file I'm adding will result in two or three files with the same cuts back-to-back-to-back, I don't really care. It's not that important to me that when I open the file I can see all the labels. Rather, when I go to the file I already have a rough idea of what I've called the file, I just have to finger through until I get to it, which is no big deal.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    OK, so we're really getting down to the fine points of filing here. Let me throw out a tip I learned years ago which actually works pretty well with either third-cut and fifth-cut folders to help get them staggered.

                    Choose the TAB based on the SECOND letter in the name and match the letter to its numeric position in the alphabet. For example, on a third-cut folder you would choose A-Tab1, B-Tab2, C-Tab3, D-Tab1, E-Tab2, F-Tab3, G-Tab1 and so on. Use the same scheme for fifth-cut folders but rotate back to tab 1 with the sixth letter of the alphabet.

                    I may not be explaining this well, but hopefully it will make sense. The word ABLE would use tab 2, ADVANCE would use Tab 1 of a third-cut folder or tab 4 of a fifth-cut folder, and the word BOXER would use tab 2 of a third-cut or tab 5 of a fifth-cut folder.

                    This is pretty nit-picky but it really helps when you begin filling up the file and you wanted some staggering of the tabs to enable quick visual scanning. You do get some bunching up of tabs around certain vowels, but there's still more variety than just pulling a folder at random.

                    Now the folder itself is still filed alphabetically by the first letter of the title, but this scheme injects some staggering of the folders within the letter group. You may find this helpful, or you may just conclude I have way too much time on my hands.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      hooray! and thanks

                      All this imput is so valuable. Thanks so much! I especially like the idea of using the accordian/expanding type files, Carlos. AND that idea came up here at the exact moment that I was making a major overhaul of my client folders. This rocks! I am so looking forward to (months from now) being clearer headed - mind like water is so perfect a description!

                      spectecGTD You have me laughing out loud: big LOL!!! THis is actuyally the kind of thing that has gotten me in big trouble: over-simplification is a danger for me - but your system is where I tend to gravitate and also where I tend to get into the most trouble! Thanks for reminding me to go for moderation in my new "systems" - I just put a sticker on my monitor: KISS! Just breathe, and exhale slowly.

                      Again...Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread. I hope to be able to add my two cents someday - still only 2/3rds into reading the book for now...

                      Mckenna

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        tab position rotation

                        Originally posted by spectecGTD
                        Choose the TAB based on the SECOND letter in the name and match the letter to its numeric position in the alphabet. For example, on a third-cut folder you would choose A-Tab1, B-Tab2, C-Tab3, D-Tab1, E-Tab2, F-Tab3, G-Tab1 and so on. Use the same scheme for fifth-cut folders but rotate back to tab 1 with the sixth letter of the alphabet.
                        I use this rotation scheme, but for the first letter. So my Aaaa to Azzzz all have their tab in the first position. The B's have them in the second position. This makes it easy to find the correct letter of the alphabet, but it keeps the individual letters in a neat row.

                        Having the tabs PER LETTER in a neat row is essential for me. I'm looking for a particular name and now my eyes only have to focus on one area while flipping swiftly through some tabs. If they were all over the place (that is, effectively spread out over 30cm), I'd probably need more time.

                        Spreading them around visually could help you to score a "lucky hit" as you spot the correct folder right away. To me, it's more efficient to get to the correct alphabet letter quickly and doing a quick search through those tabs.

                        Regards,

                        Reinout

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Tab position randomization.

                          I would prefer the SpectedGTD rotatioin scheme because it provides better visibility of tabs within the first letter area by some kind of tab position randomization. Of course one can use the one-way hash function for all tab name characters to randomize even better .
                          TesTeq

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Third cut distribution

                            There is a way to make sure that your 1/3 cut folders never line up. Find where the folder is to go, and pick a folder where the tab is different from the folder in front and the folder behind. I realize that this is the opposite of normal filing behavior -- get the files labelled and assembled, then finding where they go -- but it may work for some folks.

                            Comment

                            Working...
                            X