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Out of sight, out of mind

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  • Out of sight, out of mind

    I have some reference material that I want to keep: spider diagrams of some stuff that might come in handy.

    I have two problems:

    1. Where do I file reference material?

    2. If I file it away, I will forget about it and probably never see it again.

    How do you deal with this sort of stuff?

    Jon

  • #2
    1. Where do I file reference material?
    Depends on your requirements; I keep an A-Z file drawer where I simply file reference material under the heading that I think I would try to find it by if I were to need it. I've only got a single drawer, mostly because I also have quite a few single-purpose binders where I need to put a lot of my work-related reference material for easy retrieval by coworkers.. mostly specific types of documents and signed forms.

    2. If I file it away, I will forget about it and probably never see it again.
    Generally, if you file things A-Z as mentioned above, you should be able to find it within a minute or so when needed.

    If you forget about it, well.. It would seem that if this happens, you don't need to keep it.

    If I run across something that "might come in handy", and file it just in case, then realize when I go through my files for purging etc that I haven't had any use for it in a year or two.. then I simply know that I can throw it away never to worry about it again. However, if I STILL think it might be useful, I'd just keep it until the next purge.

    Comment


    • #3
      Why do you want to keep it if you expect to forget about it?

      Originally posted by Jon12345
      I have some reference material that I want to keep: spider diagrams of some stuff that might come in handy.

      I have two problems:

      1. Where do I file reference material?

      2. If I file it away, I will forget about it and probably never see it again.

      How do you deal with this sort of stuff?

      Jon
      You can file it in your general A-Z repository at S (Spider diagrams of stuff).

      But why do you want to keep it if you expect to forget about it?

      Just put it in the trash can.

      Comment


      • #4
        Isn't the whole idea of GTD to clear your mind so you don't have to remember everything? Mind like water and all that.

        Just because I don't remember an item doesn't mean to say it is not important. I forget most things!

        So, perhaps I should file it or put in a tickler file? When do you put things in a tickler file? Do you do that to help you learn stuff?

        Comment


        • #5
          File or Tickle?

          Originally posted by Jon12345
          Isn't the whole idea of GTD to clear your mind so you don't have to remember everything? Mind like water and all that.

          Just because I don't remember an item doesn't mean to say it is not important. I forget most things!

          So, perhaps I should file it or put in a tickler file? When do you put things in a tickler file? Do you do that to help you learn stuff?
          You're absolutely right, Jon -- the whole idea is to empty your head of everything except what you're doing right now. So planning to forget something is not a sign that you should throw it out, but it is a good reason to file it.

          Is this something you know you want to see at a specific time in the future? Then put it in your tickler file for that month or date.

          Is this something you want to see as a surprise at some random time in the future, for purposes of learning or inspiration? Then put it in your tickler file for some random month, far enough ahead that you'll probably forget about it before then.

          Is this something you may need to refer to under some circumstance in the future, but you don't know when/how/if that will arise? Then file it in your A-Z general reference files. Where? Wherever makes sense to you. A file under S for spider diagrams, a file under some other letter for the topic of the diagram, wherever you think you are likely to look for it in the future. Imagine yourself six months from now asking "Hey, where is the _____?" and think about how you would fill in the blank.

          Comment


          • #6
            1. Where do I file reference material?
            2. If I file it away, I will forget about it and probably never see it again.
            I'm not sure this is the best way, but this is how I handle it:

            1) If I have a subject matter folder, I may place the item there
            2) If not, I have a interesting products folder which is like a someday / maybe list and should be (but not always) reviewed once in a while
            3) If I really like the idea, but don't want to start - I'll place it on my someday / maybe list - ideas to consider section
            4) If I the idea fits into a project idea, I'll list it as a todo for that project.

            I too feel like a million good ideas shoot by and somehow if we want to consider them, we have to find time to at least review the list or folder.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Jon12345
              I have some reference material that I want to keep: spider diagrams of some stuff that might come in handy.

              I have two problems:

              1. Where do I file reference material?

              2. If I file it away, I will forget about it and probably never see it again.

              How do you deal with this sort of stuff?

              Jon
              Reference material should be kept in a seperate A-Z file then support material. If you don't want to forget about it make sure you have Next Actions set in your system to read the material when appropriate.

              Example from my own projects:
              Project - Research Sarbanes Oxley
              Desired Outcome - I am familiar with the Sarbane's Oxley laws in order to be able to stay compliant with them in my department.
              Project Support Material -
              Mindmaps showing the relationships wihthin my department and how the Sarbox laws apply to them
              Meeting notes about implementing the policies
              Reference Material:
              Sarbanes Oxley File

              Next Actions
              Research Sarbanes oxley online and in Subscribed tech journals.
              Print articles for reference Material
              Read reference material.


              Any notes on the reference material can be saved in project support material.
              If I have to rereference my reference material I set next actions for that. The stacks of reference material should never be the reminders and the reference material should always be refiled when done. It should never go back into in.

              If desired you can have a seperate section of your reference material (I use a hard dividewr in my file cabinet) that is read and review files. These are things I review daily if I have time to read and review. Kind of like a seperate in box. The trick to keeping this is to review it daily or you become numb to the stack.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jon12345
                I have two problems:

                1. Where do I file reference material?

                2. If I file it away, I will forget about it and probably never see it again.
                Jon
                1. In a filing cabinet?

                2. Then it wasn't very important, was it?

                Seriously, what do you do with reference material now? I use a palm, and suppose I put a note in my palm telling me that there is a folder in my filing cabinet that I might want to look at someday. Then I put a post-it somewhere reminding me that my palm has notes reminding me... well, this can go on for a long time. Some people go very high-tech with software that indexes keywords, but I believe it isn't worth it for most people. Just file whatever it is, and let it go. If you need it, it will return to you. If not, you can throw it out in a couple of years when you purge your files.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The diagrams we make -- I'm assuming this is a diagram you made (??)-- have some emotional pull beyond their actual value. I have diagrams of projects which never came to fruition (which is what happens when you subtract GTD from mindmaps) but which strike me as being useful and creative for some reason that has no bearing on reality. I ought to use them as kindling. In fact, come to think of it I will. The interesting thing about reference material is that with each exponential expansion of online resources, there is less need to maintain any reference file at all.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    This is where I tend to go anti-GTD because I think throwing out reference material is a terrible waste. I try to keep as much information as possible in digital form so that it doesn't take up space (also good for test searching). I'd love to develop a categorisation system so that I can find various obscure reference tidbits quickly, even after I forgot they existed.

                    What I mean here is that I like to record lessons learned in the course of performing Next Actions and executing projects. These lessons can be of use in related (and often unrelated) other projects. The A-Z storage method is good but it's often tricky to know what heading to put lessons learned under.

                    I'm interested in the Noguchi system which was discussed in this forum a couple of weeks ago because it gives a kind of "holding area" where I don't have to stress over categorisation until the files become holy. Sounds good in theory but I'm still trying it out...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A mountain of outdated, carefully categorized stuff with some pearls buried deeply.

                      Originally posted by treelike
                      What I mean here is that I like to record lessons learned in the course of performing Next Actions and executing projects. These lessons can be of use in related (and often unrelated) other projects. The A-Z storage method is good but it's often tricky to know what heading to put lessons learned under.
                      How often do you reuse this general purpose knowledge? How difficult is it to find it again using Google?

                      If it is unique knowledge - there's little chance that it can be reused for not-related project.

                      If it is general purpose knowledge - you can easily find it.

                      After years of collecting the general knowledge reference information you will have a mountain of outdated, carefully categorized stuff with some pearls buried deeply.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        [Reference Files] Raiders of the Lost Project

                        Originally posted by TesTeq
                        After years of collecting the general knowledge reference information you will have a mountain of outdated, carefully categorized stuff with some pearls buried deeply.
                        At http://www.ducks-in-a-row.com/PROD/raiders.html the authors recommend this:
                        "When you complete a project, copy all the materials you used. Return one copy to your reference files, and leave another in your project record! That way you will be able to find materials by topic, and still find past projects intact. A little extra work when you close out a project will go a long way toward making future projects easier."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Reason to purge

                          Originally posted by TesTeq
                          After years of collecting the general knowledge reference information you will have a mountain of outdated, carefully categorized stuff with some pearls buried deeply.
                          A very sage warning -- and a good reason to purge general reference files about once a year.

                          Which reminds me...it's been a while. I'll put that on my calendar for January. A mug of coffee, some anime reruns and a purge-o-rama sounds like a fine way to spend some cold Colorado Sunday afternoon.

                          -T.
                          Last edited by Tetsujin; 12-02-2005, 12:22 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            How often do you reuse this general purpose knowledge? How difficult is it to find it again using Google?
                            The information would be reused not very often- if ever, however it wouldn't be found using google because it is generated by myself as a by product of activities.

                            If it is unique knowledge - there's little chance that it can be reused for not-related project.
                            Possibly, but we all have our specialised tasks and interests and a unique combination of such interests which I believe can produce a unique build up of reference material. I find it quite rewarding to use a piece of information I have learned in performing one task, in helping another subject.

                            After years of collecting the general knowledge reference information you will have a mountain of outdated, carefully categorized stuff with some pearls buried deeply.
                            Point taken, and maybe what I am looking for is a glorified journal which I can look back on, perhaps with a level of categorisation there to help find records of activity done in the past. I might be best creating this in parallel with a "pearls" reference system which would be the reference system proper. Analogous perhaps to someday/maybe reference and project support reference!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I've read or heard DA talk about general reference in this way: be ok filing everything you think you could ever possibly refer to in the future in your general reference. But once a year, go through your general reference, look at everything, and toss what you don't think you need any more.

                              If you do that, the pearls will always be there, and if you purge regularly, they won't become too buried by the rest of it.

                              Comment

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