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.

Short-term reference files?

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Short-term reference files?

    Apologies in advance for the long post.

    I am in week one of implementing GTD. So far, it is going well. I have my tickler system set up and have my reference filing system established. I have been collecting all week and have the weekend set aside to process.

    I have a question about reference files, and I am open to suggestions. There are a number of paper-based reference items that I need for a short period of time (or it may turn out that I don't need them at all). These items don't seem to be tickler material--I don't want to touch them everyday to file forward, and If I do need them don't want to have to remember under what day I tickled them. It seems a waste to create a folder and file the items among my long-term files. A colleague suggested a file stand for my desktop, but high among the reasons I'm going the GTD route is to get things off my desk!

    An example: Our office is in the final stage of hiring an employee. I have resumes and cover letters for the three finalists. The process will end by September 1. My only role in the process is to participate in one yet-to-be scheduled interview session.

    Another example: One of our facilities has a temporary (10 day) change in operating hours. I need access to the one piece of paper with the temporary hours, but it doesn't merit a file, and -again- I would rather not file it forward in my tickler each day. I don't want to clutter up my Outlook calendar with an all day event or other daily posting of the hours.

    In the past these are the types of items that have ended up all over my desk (and sometimes overstayed their necessity by months) because I didn't have a logical place to put them.

    This is probably not a unique dilemma. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Originally posted by RWA
    Apologies in advance for the long post.
    I am in week one of implementing GTD. So far, it is going well. I have my tickler system set up and have my reference filing system established. I have been collecting all week and have the weekend set aside to process.
    Congratulations and Welcome!
    Originally posted by RWA
    Apologies in advance for the long post.
    An example: Our office is in the final stage of hiring an employee. I have resumes and cover letters for the three finalists. The process will end by September 1. My only role in the process is to participate in one yet-to-be scheduled interview session.

    Another example: One of our facilities has a temporary (10 day) change in operating hours. I need access to the one piece of paper with the temporary hours, but it doesn't merit a file, and -again- I would rather not file it forward in my tickler each day. I don't want to clutter up my Outlook calendar with an all day event or other daily posting of the hours.
    The solution that Ihave for those temporary things is that I have my Long Term Reference Files (Manuals, Taxes, Company Manuals) in the back of my drawer, and I have one for Short Term Reference/Active Projects. This section is also alpha-organized but contain only the folders for the 30-50 projects I have active and also those reference information that is going to be temporary.

    Having that let me move fast, if I need to access a file is in my short term files easy to get and use. When are other files, you can then go to your reference folder.

    I hope this helps!

    Comment


    • #3
      I keep my short term reference files in the front of my tickler which is in my desk drawer. I check my tickler every day, and those files are very easily access if I need them. If I don't need to do something with them until a certain day, I file them behind the tickler file of the day I need to do something with them again.

      Comment


      • #4
        Project-related reference materials go in my project files. I use project boxes -- available from a variety of places -- which are a bit more durable and unique than standard manila folders.

        For small projects with only one or two pieces of paper, I either stuff the information into the electronic Next Action, or keep the piece of paper in my pending (today only) or tickler file. For example, if I need a receipt to check on an order, I'll put it in my tickler for the followup day, in the pending file on the day I plan to make the call, and then back in the tickler for the next followup.

        Short term materials that aren't project-related, like the example of a temporary change in hours, end up in different places depending on the item. Meeting agendas and directions to meeting sites go with whatever notebook I'm planning to take to the meeting. Some items go on my calendar, some go in electronic notes... it depends. Even if they are obnoxiously in the way, like on my desk, it doesn't matter that much because of their transient nature. Since my desk is otherwise clear (thanks DA!), it's easy to spot these items and throw them away.

        Katherine

        Comment


        • #5
          tickler hack might work for you

          I recently read something about this on another thread in this forum. It is not my invention...

          The tickler file was set up in the normal 1-31 fashion. But 1 was also A. So the file labels are 1A, 2B, 3C, 4D, and so on, all the way through 26Z (with 27-31 not having any letters). The idea was that if you had something that you needed, but you didn't know what day you would need it, but wanted quick access to it, you would just file it under the letter that corresponded to "name" of the file.

          For example, for the schedule of temporary hours, what is the first word you naturally think of when you think about this document? If it is "schedule" then you would file it under 19S. But if you think of it as "temporary" you would file it under 20T (I hope I am getting the numbers right here, but you get the idea).

          The only problem I see with this method is that you really have to find a logical word to be your "tag" for the document and be able to recall the right word at the right time. If that causes too much anxiety for you to remember what "Tag" you used to file the document, the system would probably not work too well for you.

          I myself have not tried this system yet, by the way. I am not sure if I would be able to remember the tags.
          Last edited by sablouwho; 08-10-2005, 09:56 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Use post-its to label temp files

            I use post-its (placed where your would normally put the label) instead of writing on a manilla folder if I don't know whether the file will be permanent or not, that way it can be reused if temporary w/o being marked up. I've been doing this for about 6 months and have yet to have a file lose its label.

            When the short-term project is done, I either trash the stuff in the file and recycle the folder or put in a permanent file if the information warrants.

            The front of my most handy file drawer is used to hold these files. I resisted getting rid of the hanging folders for a long time, but recently did. It's weird how not having to fight with files that aren't sliding properly has made it a lot easier to file & retrieve stuff. I'm glad I finally gave this a try.

            Comment


            • #7
              Short Term Reference Files

              I go bare bones: I have a label called "Shred Pending" at the top of my tallest filing cabinet as I enter my office. I keep any S-T items that don't deserve a "real" place in my system there. Probably once a week I notice the top of my cabinet and reach up there to see what I've been holding. Usually by then I can get toss it - but in the meantime it's out of my way. If something does come up in the short-term, I know where it is.

              Don't know if that's what you're looking for, but it works for me!

              Janice

              Comment


              • #8
                Creating file folders should be easy

                I think you are a little too reluctant to create a file. I create files all the time, once the project is over you can decide whether the material is something worth keeping. If not, toss the paper and reuse the file folder. When you use a label maker, you can just put a new label over the old one. If you know the file will be temporary, the last next action for the project could be, purge files.

                David Allen recommends purging your files at least once a year, you could do it more often to get rid of files you don't need any longer.

                I think having more than one filing system will make it harder for you to find things, "is that file for John Doe in the short term files or the permanent files?" You should have one set of files A-Z.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I personally think that, if you're that relucant to create physical project files, something's wrong with your project files.

                  It should be the work of half a minute to create project folders, and they shouldn't get in the way as you're accessing other projects. And, if they're not needed long term, they'll be trashed as part of your regular clean-out.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree it sounds like making a folder and filing it might be too big a hurdle for you. Make sure you always have a supply of empty files close at hand and your filing system is also close and organized so this is as easy as possible.

                    Alternatively, there is nothing wrong with having a "miscellaneous" or "pending" file or tray or bulletin board for these things. Just make sure it does not collect so much stuff that you go numb to it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      For items such as this, I slip the paper items into a plastic folder that is closed on three sides and clear plastic on the top (I think Jeffco makes them - they last forever - I've been using some for over 20 years). I slip in a post-it note on top with the date and a letter (e.g., 8/12/05a, the next one that day would be 8/12/05b, etc.) and keep them in a drawer behind my desk.

                      I then prepare a card for the NA, and reference the same post-it number.

                      When I am ready to work on the NA that has one of these, I just pull out the folder (they are in date order) that is referenced on the card and get to work!

                      I also use Mindmanager and Resultsmanager to keep track of work tasks - I simply enter the same reference into the computer with the NA.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I am the one referred to in a post earlier in this who has tickler files labeled 1A, 2B, 3C...26Z, and I would suggest that to the person who began the thread. The post where I had explained that is here: http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthr...&highlight=26Z

                        One thing this does is eliminate the need for a section of "Project Support" files (which is what I think the original post is talking about. Let me give you example from this past week. I am a school principal, school starts Monday, and I have plenty of things that have to get done by time. At a principal's meeting, we all walk about with a stack of papers related to preparing the "Title I Schoolwide Plan" for each of our schools. It's a big report, is going to require gathering data from various sources, is going to require input from a variety of people, and doesn't have to be completed until October. Furthermore, I don't even want to LOOK until we get school opened.

                        I came back to my office, labeled a manilla folder "Title I Plan," opened a hanging file drawer in my desk, and dropped the manilla folder into the hanging file folder labeled "20T."

                        In Outlook, I created a new task that says, "+Title I Plan has been completed (20T)," assign a due date of several weeks from now (I have added a filter in Outlook so the task list filters out everything with a due date more then 7 days from now. I know I could use the "Start Date function, but my Palm doesn't have a "Start Date" field) and assign a category of "Office."

                        In a few weeks when school is firmly underway that Outlook task will appear. The "+" upfront acts as a HUGE reminder that I have an outcome with no action defined. (When I edit the task, it will look something like "Read instructions to see who will need to be involved+Title I Plan has been completed (20T)" The (20T) is a reminder that there is supporting material and where to locate it.

                        Between now and then, if another principal calls and says, "I cant' find that Title I stuff fom the meeting. Do you have yours?" it's a piece of cake to pull it out of the "20T" folder.

                        What else is in the "20T" right now?
                        1. Anything that I really need to see on August 20th
                        2. A couple of other "Project Support" type folder ("Technology in Motion" and "Target Grant."
                        3. Stuff that I dodn't know what to do with when it came my way, and wanted to see it again just sometime in the next month, and if I had to describe it, the letter "T" just comes to mind. For example, there is a folder on there with a dozen sheets of "tear-resistant paper" that came in the mail for free, I have no idea what I might use them for, but by the time they stare me in the face in Aug. 20, a use might come to mind. If I want to go looking for them before they pop up on their own, "T" would be the logical place to look for me.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          extra sorting step?

                          This is an interesting idea, however I would hesitate to implement this for myself, because there would be an extra step in the morning of sorting out which items are for today, and which need to remain in the file as reference.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            That's one thing I thought about. I am finding I don't spend an extra 5 seconds on the folder due to the things that are there because of their association with the letter instead of the date.

                            I got the idea from To Do, Doing, Done. The A-Z system advocated there (which makes it easier to put your hands on stuff at any moment) presented some advantages over the 1-31 system. At the same time, being able to throw things in the 1-31 folders and having them automatically appear without having to make an entry on your list for everything that goes in the files and then having to refer to the list to direct you to retrieval seemed an advantage of the 1-31. This way, I have my cake and eat it too.

                            I know it's different and I have not heard of anyone else doing this, but I invite you to give it a try. As a starter, instead of relabeling your 1-31s, take an index card and list the numbers 1-26 and their corresponding letters of the alphabet to use as a reference. I wouldn't have an trouble remembering that "3" and "C" are going to be paired, but I couldn't exactly tell you what letter of the alphabet "Q" is without singing through the Alphabet Song and counting on my fingers.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Let's play a game with your 10 days of different hours memo. What one concrete step could you take to get this out of your memory? In what context do you need to look at that piece of paper?
                              If you are worried about it being something that outstays it's welcome, then it needs to go in one of your collection buckets where it will get swept up in your weekly review.
                              You mentioned Outlook, could you quickly type the info into a "Note"? How about in a Task, due at your weekly review time? I can understand if you want to keep your Tasks pure, and not a repository for information.
                              I'd be inclined to just keep the piece of paper in my IN box, but that is definitely UN-GTD like, since David says that nothing should go back in the IN box.
                              If you have several of these, I might also transfer them to a post-it notes and place them inside manila folder, then stick that at the front of my short term project support materials. Call it Operational Maintenance, or something that means something to you. The Tickler A-Z file is a good idea, as long as your keyword wouldn't get forgotten. Me, I'd worry about the keyword, which would do nothing more than replace one anxiety with another. Not the result we want. Good luck. Probably by the time you read this, it'll be time to trash the paper anyway.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X