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Multiple categories in alpha filing

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  • Multiple categories in alpha filing

    I keep getting situations where I have more than one file simply because there is more than one name that comes to mind for items. Today I found I had a file called "Post Office Box" and a separate file called "Mail", both containing the same kind of stuff.

    Does anyone have any good solutions to this problem? So far I've settled for writing myself a note to put in the "Mail" folder that says "See 'Post Office Box'" so that this particular example won't repeat itself... what other solutions do people have?

  • #2
    Re: Multiple categories in alpha filing

    Originally posted by slgeo1
    I keep getting situations where I have more than one file simply because there is more than one name that comes to mind for items. Today I found I had a file called "Post Office Box" and a separate file called "Mail", both containing the same kind of stuff.

    Does anyone have any good solutions to this problem? So far I've settled for writing myself a note to put in the "Mail" folder that says "See 'Post Office Box'" so that this particular example won't repeat itself... what other solutions do people have?
    So why do you have the "Mail" folder if it contains only one item redirecting you to another folder?
    TesTeq

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    • #3
      How about labeling a manila file folder "PO Box: See Mail" -- then, just to be sure nothing falls into that folder -- which should remain empty -- tape it closed.

      That way, if there's a folder with stuff in it but you can never remember if it's under PO Box or Mail, a quick look will tell. If Mail is the first folder that comes to mind, no problem, you're in the right place. If you think first of PO Box, a quick look directs you elsewhere.

      Haven't tried this myself, but it makes sense.

      Randy

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      • #4
        I've found that the Weekly Review is important here. Every review I look at every tab of my folders. While its mostly to spur my memory to be sure I have a full capture of stuff, I also notice duplicates and poor organization.

        I've also found that when I look for something in file, the labeled tabs remind me of more stuff to capture.

        My view- don't worry about file organization, just use it a lot and it will take care of itself. Look at folders during your reviews and fix things as you find them.

        James

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        • #5
          easy method

          If you have two or more fileheads for the same papers, cut the front off as many folders as you have extra headings and write on them the alternative heading and where to look instead, for ex., POST OFFICE-see MAIL, STAMPS-see MAIL, FOREIGN POSTAGE-see MAIL:foreign. If you want to sure you don't inadvertnetly slip something into the "mock" folder you could make these "see also" labels a certain color.

          This method is a really good idea for things you look at infrequently for ex. PASSPORTS:see name in personal docs drawer. Or, if you recently changed your system around.

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          • #6
            Do what librarians do

            Librarians have faced this. Catalogers have plenty of "See" entries to direct users to the location that they have chosen to contain the relevant records. In an electronic catalog, clicking on these take you to where you should be. Over time users get better at going to the right place first.

            Practically, I would slice the folder in half and put a distinctive color for "See" on it so you never tried to put something in the "See" file.

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            • #7
              ...and another thing

              A little consistency in filing helps: like
              1. putting material that is connected to an organization in a folder for the organization, even if it is about a subject which would also be a plausible place for filing.
              2. filing things about a branded product under the brand, not the maker (Brands are often longer lasting than organizations.)
              3. filing things about a person always last name, first name.
              4. using abbreviations on labels when rushed, but filing under the spelled-out name (AT&T would go under American Telephone & Telegraph). Also I wouldn't bother putting AT&T under SBC; it's too hard to keep track.

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              • #8
                And when filing by last name, remember that businesses don't have last names.
                It used to irk me when someone would file Joe Smith's Auto Repair, Inc. under "S". I would ask them why they didn't stay consistent and file it under "I".

                Comment


                • #9
                  Topical Labels on Files

                  For some of my projects that end up having lots of files I use a prefix that groups them together in the file drawer alphabetically. I started doing this when two projects ended up with the same named folder. Rather than putting the project name at the end, I put it at the beginning so that it groups the files more by project.

                  James

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