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Reference Folders separate from Project Folders??

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  • Reference Folders separate from Project Folders??

    Are reference materials and project materials the same thing?

    Should I have a reference file cabinet and a projects file cabinet or combine them all?

    Or aren't there project files... just a list of projects on my computer?

    I am soooo confused. Maybe it's because I listened to the book on tape instead of reading the paper book. I'm just having a heck of a time getting started here!!

  • #2
    Re: Reference Folders separate from Project Folders??

    Are reference materials and project materials the same thing?

    Should I have a reference file cabinet and a projects file cabinet or combine them all?

    Or aren't there project files... just a list of projects on my computer?
    From my own perspective...

    1) Could be. That is, as long as a project is active "Complete re-fi for house," it's project material. As soon as I've finalized it, it becomes reference...

    2) Make it easy. I've gone from separating (in the past) to combining today. I have one 3-drawer file categorized by A-Z. I label each file with a one-two word name, and file accordingly. (So, yes, I have a file called "Refinance." It's in the "R" section, as it's own file.)

    3) I would say 20% + of my projects have some kind of support. Either paper (in stacks/files), or digital (e-mail, or Office documents). Of course, I make a review of all that part of the weekly "regroup." (see below...)

    http://jason.davidco.com/blogs/jason...to-cleaning-up

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    • #3
      Re: Reference Folders separate from Project Folders??

      Originally posted by smarty pants
      Are reference materials and project materials the same thing?

      Should I have a reference file cabinet and a projects file cabinet or combine them all?

      Or aren't there project files... just a list of projects on my computer?

      I am soooo confused. Maybe it's because I listened to the book on tape instead of reading the paper book. I'm just having a heck of a time getting started here!!
      I believe these are theoretically the same thing. All project files containing reference materials are reference files.

      However, in my case I rarely keep reference materials for current projects in my file cabinet. I have a drawer in my desk where such things are kept in easy reach until the project is no longer current.

      Tom S.

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      • #4
        I'm keeping them separate

        I keep my project support and my reference material separated. Actually, I just separated them last month.

        Why? I noticed a bit of reluctance towards looking in my reference material, as it was also filled with project support material, which is, after all, stuff that still needs to be done.

        For some things I have both a reference file and a support file. The reference file contains the information that's not active: stuff I already handled, old versions, whatever. The support file contains the active stuff: things I need to browse through for information, ideas needing fleshing out, yesterday's brainstorm, etc.

        I've got a separate reference file for about half of my projects. I keep them separate in hanging folders in my desk.

        Regards,

        Reinout

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        • #5
          I keep my reference material separate from my project material because:

          I have much, much reference material and don't want to have to wade through it when reviewing my projects. I am an engineer in a multi-lingual company and have dictionaries, textbooks, legal regulations, calculation examples, conversion tables, catalogs of stuff I buy for projects, etc. Altogether I have about 20 linear feet of shelf/file drawers of reference.

          My reference and project materials come in all shapes and sizes. I have physical objects (sample components that I may use on a project), drawings in sizes from 8.5 x 11 to 36 x 54 (inches), books of customer specifications, CDs. etc. Some of my filing methods are in locations based on size/shape and then sorted by project or A-Z.

          I typically have 4-10 major projects active at one time (note this is not the number of projects in my GTD system, rather the number of customer projects with hard deliverables and deadlines). Each project typically comprises a binder - small ones get a 1.5 inch binder, large ones get one or two 3 inch binders.

          For weekly review, I flip through the binders. It is more convenient for me to have them physically separated from my reference material.

          My project materials are not always stored together. The engineering drawings for a project are stored centrally in binders so that each member of the team can access them as needed.

          As I write this and look around my office I realize that my filing 'system' is a lot more complex than what I described so far. For my most important two projects, I have also 6-8 plain file folders in a stand-up rack containing hot issues. I have sets of 40-100 drawings clipped together and hanging on pegs on my wall. I keep sensitive project material, usually financial, in separate yellow fle folders in a locked cabinet. The yellow lets me notice when I have left a file out on my desk and need to put in back in the lock-up. I have blue file folders for the personnel data for my staff - these are also kept locked up.

          Of course, I also have the five travelling GTD folders in my briefcase...

          All this was developed over years with not too much advance planning. It is just what works for me.

          Ken

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          • #6
            I separate my reference materials that are not connected to any active project from my active project support materials. The distinction makes it easier for me to oversee the active projects and to pull the files quickly.

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            • #7
              In my view, the GTD methodology centers around the distinction between actions and non actions. We make action lists, we list someday/maybe actions, we flag actions by project, we list actions on calendars. Distinguishing the different types of actions and their contexts is extremely helpful.

              However, GTD does not offer clear distinctions between the different types of reference materials other than to note that some reference material is closely tied to a projects ("support") and some is not ("general reference"). The main problem is that there are no clear distinctions between types of reference material. For instance, a single article may be relevant to several projects while also being a general reference item as well as part of a historical record for an earlier project or projects.

              In short, in my view GTD is not the place to look for thoughts about reference filing (except for the point that physical items that are actionable should be treated and tracked as action items). I read the book to imply this when it points out that there are many different ways to file things. As long as a filing system preserves the distinction between actions and non actions, it complies with GTD.

              For me, the most important design criteria in my filing system are: (1) Ease of use - especially for filing "general reference" items quickly. That's why I like Allen's idea about an A-Z system. (2) Physical separation - I separate phone books, textbooks, cheat sheets, project files, general files, archives, etc. so I can use my visual/physical memory to relate to the system (3) Ease of purging - I need to be able to gradually migrate closed projects out but be sure that I don't discard anything too soon (I work in the public sector and we must preserve records for set periods). (4) Conceptual separation - apart from general reference, I separate files along major topic lines.

              I think the key with reference material is to recognize that filing is a separate issue from the action/non action issue that is at the heart of GTD. File based on what makes sense for ease of use, retrievability, purging, etc.

              Comment


              • #8
                If you've only listened to GTD on CD and have not read the book, I strongly recommend taking the time to read the book. The CDs were fun to listen to, but I can easily see how this whole system would remain confusing to you if you had not read the book. The book is not as much fun as the lectures, but it explains the GTD system in more detail and, I think, in a way that is much easier to absorb. And it's a pretty quick read. At the risk of revealing myself to be a complete nerd, I'll volunteer that I actually bought a second copy of the book so that I would have one for home and one for the office. I find it helpful to refer back to it from time to time as I'm trying to implement this system.

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                • #9
                  I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who sometimes buys two copies of books I want to keep re-reading or referencing. (One for home and the other for office/travel purposes).

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