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  • Filing Tip - Super Simple But It Works

    Hi Folks,

    You all may do this already but I found something that's helping me immensely in setting up my general reference filing system.

    I bought the Brother labeler and yes, the hype is true for me. It changes the entire way I look at my files. Big note - per DA's advice, spend the extra for the AC adaptor and you don't have to worry about finding 6 batteries every time you turn around. My files are looking great.

    The trouble for me is remember how I filed something. Is my cell phone manual under M (motorola), C (cell phone), M (manuals) or O (Owners Manuals) As the number of files grows, it can get tougher and tougher to find.

    I know there are products out there like Paper Tiger software that will help but it seemed overly complicated for what I wanted to do.

    So I simply set up an Excel sheet and labeled my columns as such:

    Date Created, Drawer, Letter, File Name, Contents - Key Words

    My motorola cell phone manual entry looks like this under the columns:

    Date Created - 3/20, Drawer - 1, Letter - O , File Name - Owners Manuals, Contents - Key Words - V60 cell phone manual

    When I need to find something, I can hit the "find" button and quickly type in a couple of key words and then instantly find where I stashed the info. Works like a charm.

    I've never in my life felt as confident filing something. Cool stuff.

    Joe

  • #2
    filing tip

    hmmmm, that's so simple --yet so powerful .

    I could do this at work and at home.

    thanks for sharing !

    paul

    Comment


    • #3
      Filing Tip

      Good tip, Joe.

      A less sophisticated, but lower maintenance, tip is to guess where you might naturally look for the item when you need it later. If there are 2 obvious places, then make a copy and file it in 2 places, or drop an index card in the 2nd file referencing the 1st file. Usually, 1 place to file is enough and 2 places is the exception.

      Andrew

      Comment


      • #4
        I set up something similar in Excel with a separate worksheet for each filing location/type. For example, I have a worksheet named "Reference" and one named "Purchase Orders" and one named CD."

        My columns are Location, Name and Keywords although I never actually type the name into Row 1 for reasons listed below. A typical row looks like this:
        Reference 10 // Glues // white glue elmers mastic

        How many columns I use and what I name them varies with what is in the file. If I had a music CD file I might have MUSIC // Artist // Album title // favorite tracks.

        I set up file folders just numbered with no letters on the labels, just 1,2,3, etc. These are easy to do in batches ahead of time. For the CDs I just stuck the labels to the outside jewel case.

        I was careful to set it up so that Row 1 corresponds to File number 1, row 2 to file 2, etc. This way, when I run Excel's Find command using the Find All within workbook option, I get a list of worksheets and cells like REFERENCE $B$3 which tells me immediately to look in file 3 of the REFERENCE file because the row number IS the file number. If I had a worksheet named BOTTOM DRAWER DESK I might see a Find All result like BOTTOM DRAWER DESK $C$24 so I know right away to look there in file 24. A result like CD $B$19 tells me to fetch CD number 19 and so on.
        This is why I don't type the column names into row 1 - that would mess up the system.

        In the past I've had a worksheet named BASEMENT with my cardboard boxes numbered and the major contents listed as keywords. Also handy for moving.

        I have found that this system works best for me for files that I access infrequently, like my basement boxes. For everyday files, I still use an A-Z system with text labels because this saves me the step of looking into Excel each time I want a file.

        Another tip: I created a file for those one of a kind, single pages that I was spending a great deal of time agonizing over where to file. I made one manila folder labeled "1-25," another "26-50," etc. Note, I mean that I will put all documents numbered 1-25 into ONE folder, in chronological order that I receive them, not by topic.

        Now, my rule is "If in doubt, file it in the INDEX file." Sorry, the name is not very imaginative. Since the probability is 80% that I will never retrieve from that file, it gives me a quick way to take care of miscellaneous items. If I notice a trend over time that I am collecting several similar items, I can extract them and put them into a reference file. Before setting up this system I noticed that one-of-a-kind documents were taking a disproportionate amount of time and psychic RAM to file. Now, I can handle them on automatic pilot, without having to get a new folder, brainstorm up the right topic to name it so I'd find it later, print a label, etc.

        The only downside is that I might be collecting a few items that I should have thrown away, but in two years of following this system, I am only up to number 87 in the fourth folder.

        Hope this helps.

        Ken

        Comment


        • #5
          I'll throw my two cents worth in here. I use a method with the same intent, but using a different tool. My weapon of choice is Powermarks, available at www.kaylon.com. The program is a super-slick alternative to your browser's "favorites" function. It lets you file your web bookmarks with attached keywords. It then employs one of the fastest and most clever search engines to let you zero in on those long-forgotten bookmarks that are suddenly of critical interest. You can find an informative review of the program at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,544947,00.asp

          Fortunately, Powermarks doesn't really care whether you enter a real URL or some other "address". So I use it for both website addresses and my reference file "addresses" like B1001, B1002... This also makes logical sense to me, since I consider both my physical files and various websites of interest to be important "reference files". I no longer print out material from websites just so that I can store it in my reference files. More importantly, I don't have to worry about remembering whether I saw some snippet of information on the web or in print. When I need to retrieve something, typing a few keywords instantly gives me an overview of any websites and files that contain relevant info. Incidentally, you can of course use Powermarks to index files on your hard drives by keywords as well.

          With this approach I use Ken's method of pre-printing my file labels which are numeric only. This is one of the big lessons from the Paper Tiger approach (which otherwise is quite slow and awkward). Using numeric labelling in conjunction with keywords completely eliminates any "handwringing" over where to file something. It simply doesn't matter. Powermarks can accept and search instantly on any number of keywords, so you can quickly and effortlessly cover all your possible bases. I pre-print pages of Avery labels by the hundreds. Creating a file then involves only peeling off the next label (no more fighting with getting the backing off the Brother tape), slapping it on a file, and inputting a few keywords. I find myself completley relaxed with this method, because I am never worried about whether I will be able to retrieve something when I need to.

          Here's one quick Powermarks screenshot to help illustrate how this approach looks.


          Hope this explanation is clear enough.

          Regards.....Bill Kratz
          whkratz@attbi.com
          www.improvedoutlook.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Power Filing

            That looks very interesting Bill. Is there anyway to get that over to the Palm? Is that something you do?

            I use a similar filing system that I learned about from a book called, "File Don't Pile". It's a number based system with an Index sheet. What's nice about the number based system is that you can line up your tabs and you can reuse your folders by just updating your index/search engine.

            - Mark

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Power Filing

              Originally posted by mbacas
              That looks very interesting Bill. Is there anyway to get that over to the Palm? Is that something you do?
              - Mark
              Mark -- No I don't integrate this filing method with a PDA in any way, and Powermarks is not designed for that either. Its primary purpose is as a replacement for a browser's "favorites" function, so it's not really geared to a PDA.

              Having said that, I promise that it is so slick that you will be happy just to have it on your desktop (unless of course you don't work on a desktop or notebook at all).

              Regards.....Bill Kratz
              whkratz@attbi.com
              www.improvedoutlook.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Filing tip

                Hi!
                I have an easy way to find my files.
                Since all files belongs to a task or a project, there is always a list item for every file.

                In the entry for the task or the project I insert the label of the file.
                For example:
                File labelled "CD"
                Task is "Talk with Peter at Product meeting about ¤CD"
                The ¤ character tells me where to find the file, if there is any.
                Otherwise I would look for "Peter" or "Product meeting" for it.
                And no ¤ means no file!

                Comment


                • #9
                  kaylon powermarks and paper tiger

                  dear whkratz
                  in your filing system using kaylon powermarks

                  what does the "B" in B000x stand for?

                  assume thats some sort of location?, rather than alpha reference?

                  the downside to the papertiger way is that your filing system can become awful fragmented if you blindly use numeric approach -- i am using paper tiger and have a client filing cabinet as one client. I find it too easy to simply create a new numeric folder rather than put it in an existing folder -- means a lot of folders have just one piece of paper in it -- which means if i'm looking for materials for client ABC, it may be in folder 1, 5, 7,31 and 310 -- granted the index makes it easy to figure this out, but makes it a pain to do physical retrieval. Wish paper tiger allowed you to have somthing like
                  A001 A002 A003 B001 B002 B003 -- then at least client related stuff would be in the same general location. powermarks may make this easy so i'm going to give it a whirl -- dread haveing to transfer all that paper tiger index data however if powermarks wins me over.

                  the GTD approach using A-Z makes sense in this context, but need fast retrieval which paper tiger allows -- powermarks may be the ticket -- thanks for the hint.

                  i do find having filing cabinet already stocked with files already numbered to be a phenomonal blessing. -- makes filing easy -- as long as you are diligent in recording the details somewhere for fast retrieval -- "outta mind as david likes to say"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: kaylon powermarks and paper tiger

                    Originally posted by reyes
                    dear whkratz
                    in your filing system using kaylon powermarks

                    what does the "B" in B000x stand for?

                    assume thats some sort of location?, rather than alpha reference?
                    The "B" just stands for "Business" I separate my reference files into business and personal, so you are essentially correct -- the alpha prefix just tells me in which set of file drawers I'll find the file.

                    With regards to your "fragmentation" comment -- I use the numeric/Powermarks method only for genuine reference filing. I maintain alpha files for Projects and Contacts (clients) that require a physical file, though I maintain most client data and records only digitally. Also, when archiving a physical Project file, I review it for reference material, and often move (or copy) such stuff to a numeric/Powermarks file.

                    My personal method for diligently entering the details into Powermarks is simply to do it always before I physically put anything into the file folder. Powermarks is always available, ready to spring to life, in my system tray, so it is super quick to call it up and enter the info. If for some reason that simply isn't possible, then the item or material goes into my inbox and is filed later when I can properly complete the "logging in".

                    Hope that helps to explain things.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Embedded file meta-data?

                      Originally posted by CosmoGTD
                      The only negative with Powermarks i have found is that the META-INFORMATION about the file, is not part of the file. Its merely linked to the file, within Powermarks.

                      So if i move a folder, or rename it, the links no longer work.
                      It would be nice to be able to embed the meta-data about the file INTO the file, as then even if it gets moved around i can still search and find it.
                      Anyone have any solutions?
                      Coz
                      No Coz, I don't have a solution for this. If Powermarks could do this, it might not be so "small and fast" as you accurately described it.

                      My own solution to this dilemma isn't particularly slick, but it works, mostly because I try not to move files on my hard disk too often. If I use Powermarks to find a file, and it isn't where Powermarks thought it was, at least it gives me the file name. Then I can use an Explorer search to find the file and then update the info in Powermarks. Not as seamless as you would like, but at least it gets me where I'm going.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        filing

                        for filing on a hard disk, i simply use sleuthhound which is a phenomenal searcher for file on HD -- gives you a brower interface plus preview.

                        have been trying 80-20 retriever that integrats both hard drive and email searching -it's lighting fast


                        downside to both of these
                        1) lots of hard disk space -- but speed is awesome
                        2) you can't store meta data about the file, but keyword searchging is awesome.

                        if 80-20 retriever is as accurate as sleuthhound, i'll be switching to it to get both email and hard disk retrieval

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          filing

                          for filing on a hard disk, i simply use sleuthhound which is a phenomenal searcher for file on HD -- gives you a brower interface plus preview.

                          have been trying 80-20 retriever that integrats both hard drive and email searching -it's lighting fast


                          downside to both of these
                          1) lots of hard disk space -- but speed is awesome
                          2) you can't store meta data about the file, but keyword searchging is awesome.

                          if 80-20 retriever is as accurate as sleuthhound, i'll be switching to it to get both email and hard disk retrieval

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Filing Tip - Super Simple But It Works

                            Originally posted by Joe Bryant
                            So I simply set up an Excel sheet and labeled my columns as such:

                            Date Created, Drawer, Letter, File Name, Contents - Key Words

                            My motorola cell phone manual entry looks like this under the columns:

                            Date Created - 3/20, Drawer - 1, Letter - O , File Name - Owners Manuals, Contents - Key Words - V60 cell phone manual

                            Joe
                            Brilliant Joe! I use my PDA (Sony TG50 now, previously Treo 90, Casio E125 P/PC) for ALL notations, ridiculously easy to do globally with ShadowPlan (withOUT having to repeat entries or hassle categories, etc). Reason: My physical notes seemed to have Carl Lewis style sprinting feet attached- always ran away from my searching retinas! 20+ adult years of paper versus 2-3 years with electronic notes has taught me the long-term benefits of sticking with the PDA- always!

                            But the filing thing had vexed me. With your wonderfully explained tip, I'll be creating a HandBase applet/database, which will allow me the best of both worlds-- desktop and PDA access, via hands-off syncs. (Mercifully, current version 3.01i FINALLY got it right. {9th time's the charm, eh?!} Most buggies are dead, and the ones which remain are minor.)

                            Fantastic! I owe ya one, Pardnah

                            PG

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              QDOCS, anyone?

                              Has anyone used QDOCS? Its a freeware document management application? Any reviews?

                              Comment

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