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  • GTD in a new office?

    I've got a great opportunity to get started with GTD, but I'm looking for some advice or tips...

    The basics: I've been in this job (mid-to-upper level public service of sorts, one shared clerical staff and about 3 'bosses' , lots of meetings and reports, quite a bit of networking and lots of information that needs to be at my fingertips all the time)

    I've read GTD and have partially implemented it.

    The thing is: we're moving offices. To one with a lot less storage space, so we've all been asked to go through our files and get rid of everything we don't need. It's great. I had cabinets full of files from previous holders of this job, most of it just thrown in any-which-way, now, not only do I have to sort through it, but I can organise it whatever way suits me.

    And, with the office move, I won't be battling against existing systems of any sort. (And I actually know the job now - the chance of re-organising after I started reading GTD was lost because I was knew in the job and its a fairly steep learning curve)

    So... the point of it all... if you were moving to a pristine new office, and could organise it, yourself and your files in any way you wanted to, how would you do it to take best advantage of the GTD system. (only provisos being - I get desk, chair, tiny 'meeting table' ONE filing unit/bookcase and no other furniture)?

    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    What a great opportunity!

    I recently had a similar chance to implement GTD in a new office after a job move. I had been partially implementing aspects of GTD in my old job but found the new opportunity really great for starting my filing system from scratch.

    The first thing I did was order a labeller. If you are allowed to do that I highly recommend it. Since my computer is always on when I'm in the office, I got one that I can use from within Word and I keep a list of my file labels, sorted alphabetically so that if I don't find it the first place I look I can just do a quick search and see where I put it. Since I'm typing out the label anyway, saving it isn't any extra work.

    Since you know the job a little bit now, take the time to think if there are any "separate" filing categories or if everything can be sorted in one A-Z file. I have three separate categories (they can live in the same filing cabinet either in different drawers or just different sections in the same drawer) with very hard edges:

    - Project specific information gets the office file project number. I expect I'll need to cull this on an ongoing basis to get rid of old stuff I don't actually use but it is great for project support material when I'm actively working on it.

    - I also have a separate filing system for personnel related information (resumes, performance assessments etc.) I don't want that sensitive information mixed in with my general reference files.

    - Other than that everything is in one A-Z filing cabinet, whether it's administrative stuff (expense forms) or more personal (professional association applications, the combination to the fitness room locker). Because I'm going on mat leave soon, I have put a small pink dot on the labels that are too personal to leave behind (e.g., pay stubs). This way, I can pull them easily when I go and whoever may need to access the reference information when I'm gone will be able to.

    I hope some of that helps - taking the time to think about what will work in your new office is definitely a good use of your time and energy.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by vvviola View Post
      So... the point of it all... if you were moving to a pristine new office, and could organise it, yourself and your files in any way you wanted to, how would you do it to take best advantage of the GTD system. (only provisos being - I get desk, chair, tiny 'meeting table' ONE filing unit/bookcase and no other furniture)?
      With only one filing unit, I think this is going to be your biggest challenge. You might want to invest in a scanner for the stuff you need to keep, but don't have room to file.

      Comment


      • #4
        Great opportunity indeed!

        Originally posted by dschaffner View Post
        With only one filing unit, I think this is going to be your biggest challenge.
        I agree.
        You might want to invest in a scanner for the stuff you need to keep, but don't have room to file.
        Or see if you can use a company scanner near-by? (at least for any non-sensitive stuff?)

        Also definitely have plenty of backup! Either company owned and/or your own external HD/s and USBs and CDs/DVDs or maybe even online - see what you're allowed? (Some companies don't allow USB connections, privacy of information might also be an issue to consider and find out what is okay)

        Is it filing unit OR bookcase? (or both?) First I'd find out the specifics and ergonomics and see what system would be best.. (You might also add a movable box or stand for current files or a transportable system, maybe under your desk or on the book shelf?)

        Again, it depends what you need and what you can get rid of.. (If in doubt, save it or scan it and save electronically I guess)

        Great tips, Siobhan! On pink dots etc.

        As for labeler - some people swear by it, personally I still haven't gotten convinced as I like writing out names of files I'm still not totally organized though, so it's probably better to listen to other people?

        I can see how Siobhan's system is very helpful - otherwise you probably need to put in more work into maintaining record of existing files, with labeler renaming files in computer and RL is probably easier..

        Comment


        • #5
          I'd suggest that as you sort through your existing filing cabinet treat it as one big in-tray. Process each piece of paper as you normally would - action, project, file or bin.

          If I was trying to do it all within the filing cabinet ie. purge and file, I'd get lost.

          David

          Comment


          • #6
            re: only one filing cabinet

            Get a nice scanner like the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners that have been pointed out in these forums before. Double-sided scanning. Quick, fast, automatically converts to PDFs. A great investment if you need to cut down on filing space.

            Comment


            • #7
              I recently moved from NY to Portland, OR and had the chance to purge my entire life. I was an extremely disorganized person suffering from HSS (Horizontal Surface Syndrome). I changed jobs at the same time so when I packed, I purged.

              I had been trying to implement GTD for over a year with little success, because I could never "find" the time to just process everything into a trusted system. I can say from experience that a partial implementation is no implementation at all.

              Now that I am set back up, everything was put in into a system and I now live to mind sweep into mind maps and make sure everything has its place. I have no more piles and never spend more than a few moments looking for things that I could never find before.

              If you get this type of opportunity to start over, jump on it. It was the doorway to my success!

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks for all the great ideas - they've certainly helped focus my mind a bit!

                No scanning here (or at least, only very limited facilities for if we need to send something electronically that can only be got in hard copy), no additional programmes can be installed, no personal external HD/USB drives, most definitely no personal scanners. Yes, we take security very seriously in these parts!

                I found out this morning that we'll be getting a small bookcase AND a filing unit, so that gives me a little more space. But we won't know until we get to the office whether our filing unit is all for files or part files/part bookcase (they are big tambour units, over twice the width of a standard filing cabinet, with horizontal pull-out racks for hanging files)

                Luckily, the more I process (and thanks for the idea of treating it like an inbox, that has really helped speed things up for me!) the more I realise that I need very little in the way of older files - most important things are stored elsewhere already, I just have copies. It's the more recent reference material that could be the difficulty.

                Thanks again! And any more tips would be great... off to dive back into the stack of files on my table... hopefully I'll be able to see the door before lunchtime!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Great question! I started my current job about a year ago, and here's what I did:

                  I found one filing cabinet. In the bottom (largest) drawer, I set up my paper GTD system: Tickler file in the front, and the rest of my files behind that. I have comparatively few physical files, so others might need more cabinets, of course.

                  I then found a clipboard and added a few blank pages to it. I wrote "Next Actions" at the top of the top-most page, "Projects" at the top of the second page, and "Waiting For" at the top of the third page.

                  I put my Someday/Maybe list on my computer as a text file on my desktop, as Someday/Maybe always grows into a large list.

                  I also found a physical inbox that I put on one end of my desk.

                  That's it, really.

                  Comment

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