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  • A-Z Filing System

    I have been reading the GTD book, and have a question about how to set up the A-Z filing system. I currently have hanging files that I use. I would like to try and get rid of these as David suggested. Do I create 26 files and label them A-Z to begin the system, or do I just take my existing labled files and organize them alphabetically? Is the idea that I have a folder labled "R", and every document that starts with an "R" goes in that folder, or is the idea that I could have a folder labled "Reviews", and another one "Rentals", and I just make sure they are in alphabetical order. Just need some clarification on this concept. Thanks.

  • #2
    I think David tells about Projects and Reference Files and he means Project Name or Area Name. I.e.

    {A Customer} {A Project}

    {B Customer} {A Project}

    {B Customer} {B Project}

    Regards,

    Eugene.

    Comment


    • #3
      From what I understand, the idea is simply to have an alphabetical filing system. If you have three folders, "Comics," "Civil War," and "Discover Card," they would be ordered "Civil War," then "Comics," then "Discover Card."

      The goal is to make your folders incredibly easy to skim through.

      Comment


      • #4
        It seems to me that Eugene and Brent are talking about two different things. Project support materials are not the same as true reference materials.

        For project support materials, I use a bunch of nylon file packs. (These were from Levenger, but I couldn't find them in a quick search of their site. Hold about an inch of files, with a zipper to keep loose items from falling out. Any project box would serve the same function.) These let me throw everything related to a particular project or client in my briefcase, without spending too much time digging through my files.

        I file completed projects by date, using a set of 12 hanging folders (1 per month) with four manila folders (1 per week) in each. Once a project is a year old, I sort through the file and (mostly) throw things away or move them to long term reference.

        True reference materials are filed either on paper or electronically, depending on what the item is. Frequently accessed stuff -- addresses, phone numbers, billing records -- is electronic, as are things that came to me electronically in the first place, like information from the Web. Financial records are filed by account and year. Most other reference information is filed alphabetically by topic.

        I've noted elsewhere that I take most of my notes on paper in bound notebooks. Notebooks that I'm done using go into the dated project files, for review (and probably disposal) in a year or so.

        Hope this helps,

        Katherine

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by kewms
          It seems to me that Eugene and Brent are talking about two different things. Project support materials are not the same as true reference materials.

          For project support materials, I use a bunch of nylon file packs. (These were from Levenger, but I couldn't find them in a quick search of their site. Hold about an inch of files, with a zipper to keep loose items from falling out. Any project box would serve the same function.) These let me throw everything related to a particular project or client in my briefcase, without spending too much time digging through my files.

          I file completed projects by date, using a set of 12 hanging folders (1 per month) with four manila folders (1 per week) in each. Once a project is a year old, I sort through the file and (mostly) throw things away or move them to long term reference.

          True reference materials are filed either on paper or electronically, depending on what the item is. Frequently accessed stuff -- addresses, phone numbers, billing records -- is electronic, as are things that came to me electronically in the first place, like information from the Web. Financial records are filed by account and year. Most other reference information is filed alphabetically by topic.

          I've noted elsewhere that I take most of my notes on paper in bound notebooks. Notebooks that I'm done using go into the dated project files, for review (and probably disposal) in a year or so.

          Hope this helps,

          Katherine
          The Levenger file packs Katherine refers to: http://www.levenger.com/PAGETEMPLATE...4664|Level=2-3

          and the larger "traveling inbox": http://www.levenger.com/PAGETEMPLATE...elated|Lnk=Img

          No, I don't work for Levenger. Just an(other) addict.

          Comment


          • #6
            To set up my filling system, I started with 26 File/Project Jackets (different titles from different firms) in any case they expand to 1.5" (also availalbe in 3" and 5") and stand up.

            Each jacket was labeled A-Z (centerd) and expanded. Then I empted my exisiting file cabents (into banker boxes) and started the process of refilling. I found it helpful to place all the files upside down ... this forced me to focus on the file in hand rather than the next file in the box. The refilling was a two step process:
            (1) review of file and its contents. If its was current or needed it stayed, if not straight into the trash.
            (2) For current/keeper items I transferred the contents into new file covers (1st position cut) and labeled the file. In many cases the orginal file title was changes to better reflect its contents ... hence the new folders.
            From there it was into the relevant file jacket. Maintaining alph order within the jackets.

            When a jacket filled up, I simply added another behind it. Additionally, for related items (ie completed projects) the file jackets make a great one spot storage solution ... just label, place the items in and file in the relavent A-Z section.

            Trust this helps. Though I will add getting your file cabinets in order is one of the least enjoyable jobs. However, the payoff is well worth the time and effort ... relvents files, in order and retriable. Also review the files at least yearly and cull as necessary.
            Last edited by ReBuild; 04-05-2006, 08:23 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by BrianK
              The Levenger file packs Katherine refers to: http://www.levenger.com/PAGETEMPLATE...4664|Level=2-3
              I accomplish much the same thing with these:

              http://www.officedepot.com/ddSKU.do?...0324&An=browse

              $7.99 for a pack of 10, and I label the outsides of the envelopes with my labeler for ease of use. When I finish a project, I archive or toss (as needed) the support materials, peel the label off, and I'm good to go again. Cheaper, and doesn't feed my Levenger addiction. ("Hi, I'm Tammy, and I'm a recovering Levenger-holic"...)

              -- Tammy

              Comment


              • #8
                here's my take

                Originally posted by Murphybp2
                Do I create 26 files and label them A-Z to begin the system, or do I just take my existing labeled files and organize them alphabetically?
                All you need is a) a bunch of blank (empty) 3-tab manila file folders, b) some A-Z divider tabs, and c) a good filing cabinet (not hanging).

                Then stick the dividers into the drawer (or split them over multiple drawers, if necessary), and start labeling and filing. Put any folder that is labeled "A___" behind the "A" divider (e.g., "Architecture"), and so on.

                In case it helps, here are my files. You can see I've put A-K into this drawer, and the rest into the second drawer. both are within swivel distance, and not packed full.

                For starters I recommend mixing general reference files with your project files. For example, I have car service receipts (under "C") mixed with projects that begin with "C" (e.g., "Chocolate Shop").

                If the drawers get too full, I move less-frequently accessed files into my secondary storage - a large 4 drawer monster against the wall. There's a picture here (the parts are annotated).

                Hope this helps!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by cornell
                  All you need is a) a bunch of blank (empty) 3-tab manila file folders, b) some A-Z divider tabs, and c) a good filing cabinet (not hanging).

                  Then stick the dividers into the drawer (or split them over multiple drawers, if necessary), and start labeling and filing. Put any folder that is labeled "A___" behind the "A" divider (e.g., "Architecture"), and so on.

                  In case it helps, here are my files. You can see I've put A-K into this drawer, and the rest into the second drawer. both are within swivel distance, and not packed full.

                  For starters I recommend mixing general reference files with your project files. For example, I have car service receipts (under "C") mixed with projects that begin with "C" (e.g., "Chocolate Shop").

                  If the drawers get too full, I move less-frequently accessed files into my secondary storage - a large 4 drawer monster against the wall. There's a picture here (the parts are annotated).

                  Hope this helps!
                  I think you may have to blog on the "Chocolate Shop" project. You have my interest up.

                  But I agree, if you have one filing system (besides the tickler system), it makes finding things much easier.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I actually have 4 filing systems. Yikes. But it works for me. Here's what I have:
                    1. small box on desk = current projects - right in front of me, so I don't lose sight of them
                    2. one drawer of filing cabinet = money stuff - bank statements, insurance, etc - this dates back to my pre-GTD days and I didn't want to move the files because I'm so used to being able to find stuff there
                    3. 3 = one drawer in filing cabinet - school/research - working copies of stuff, conferences I've attended, etc.
                    4. 2-drawer filing cabinet = my official GTD reference files - everything else goes there

                    Yeah, it sounds clunky, but definitely works for me. It seems I like to keep a clear separation between things. And no, this doesn't even count another bankers box I have full of articles that I've read, filed alphabetically Oh, no, I really am a disaster!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You're too hard on yourself.

                      Sounds to me like you have ONE system
                      - with four different locations for files based on their content.

                      Nothing wrong with that if it works.

                      LuisR

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        FWIW, cornell's system exactly matches my own, except that I don't use A-Z divider tabs. I can tell by glancing at my files if I'm in the "A" section or the "D" section.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks

                          Thanks for all the replies. That definately helps. It's given me some different ideas. I think for my home stuff I'll probably start with the A-Z divider idea. For work though I may have to incorporate some of the files that hold all information for one project, so that it's easy to take with you. I have been in the habit of using 3 ring binders for that stuff, but sometimes that is a bigger pain then it's worth. Thanks for the pictures Cornell. I loved the pic of your whole office set up with annotated notes for each section. Very helpful.

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