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Reference Folder Labels - Objects or Concepts

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  • Reference Folder Labels - Objects or Concepts

    I recently bought a label printer had set about my filing system.

    When choosing where to file a document sometimes its obvious:
    • Docs related to an event go in a folder labelled for that event
    • Docs related to a project, have a project folder created for them
    • Docs of a very specific type have their own folder (eg payslips)

    Are there any other obvious categories?

    A lot of my documents, though, are bills, statements, FYIs letters that relate to ongoing concerns like car insurance, loans,

    It occurred to me that I can group these by the thing that they're related to (house, car, health) or the concept (insurance, invoice, etc). I think you need to always file according to things or concepts and not mix them up (there is an obvious problem if you have a car and an insurance folder).

    How do other people solve this problem, or do other people not have this issue?

  • #2
    Usability

    The label is best decided by the use. In what situations would you require this folder? In those situations, what keywords would you be looking for?

    In case of the car, it's fine to have "car - insurance", "car - X", "car - Y" as separate folders. When you want to look for car insurance papers, you will look at two possible places in your alphabetically ordered folders if you don't exactly remember the label: "insurance -car", and "car - insurance". Much better than looking through all the various insurances, or all the documents related to car.

    And as far as you use the keywords for labels that you think you would be looking for when searching for these documents, it does not matter whether it is a thing, a concept, a project, or whatever. Finding something in fewest possible attempts is more important than dogmatic consistency in naming.

    If you are a programmer, compare this with a hash: It is meant to find things in fewest possible attempts, and the internal order could be completely scrambled.

    Regards,
    Abhay

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by LifeButBetter View Post
      I think you need to always file according to things or concepts and not mix them up (there is an obvious problem if you have a car and an insurance folder).

      How do other people solve this problem, or do other people not have this issue?
      Mix them up is how I do it.

      I file things by how I think I will look for them later. That is sometimes a bit quirky. If, later, when I am looking for a file and it's not where I first look for it, when I do eventually find it I relabel it to match my first place even if it seems weird.

      I see no problems with files for the car and for insurance. In fact that is exactly how I have mine organized right now. It's partly because our insurance includes the house and car and farm all on one policy. I'd never think to look for the house insurance info under the car file but I would think to look for the car insurance under insurance first. I did it that way even when we had separate policies for the house and cars. I had one big folder with all the insurance policies in it. The time to sort through the 3-4 policies to get the one I needed was small compared to the time trying to remember if I filed it under House Insurance or Car Insurance or Farm Insurance. The key was it was all insurance.

      Some other Examples:

      I have a bunch of files relating to our sheep. A lot are filed like this:

      Sheep AI Project 2008
      Sheep Breeding EPDs
      Sheep Disease OPP
      Sheep Scrapie regulations

      But some are filed as:

      Flock Records 2009
      Flock Records 2008
      Grazing Maps
      BWMS Newsletters UK
      BWMS Flock Book UK
      BWMS Flock Book US

      It's all how I will look for the stuff later.

      Also keep in mind that while you want the freedom to feel comfortable filing a single sheet of paper in its own separate file folder likewise you need to feel free to combine documents if that makes more sense to you. In my examples above all the years of the UK flock book are in one huge file. Sure, if I need one specific year it can take an extra 30 seconds to find it but usually I actually need several years at once so it makes more sense to have them all in one file.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by LifeButBetter View Post
        I recently bought a label printer had set about my filing system.

        When choosing where to file a document sometimes its obvious:
        • Docs related to an event go in a folder labelled for that event
        • Docs related to a project, have a project folder created for them
        • Docs of a very specific type have their own folder (eg payslips)

        Are there any other obvious categories?

        A lot of my documents, though, are bills, statements, FYIs letters that relate to ongoing concerns like car insurance, loans,

        It occurred to me that I can group these by the thing that they're related to (house, car, health) or the concept (insurance, invoice, etc). I think you need to always file according to things or concepts and not mix them up (there is an obvious problem if you have a car and an insurance folder).

        How do other people solve this problem, or do other people not have this issue?
        I'm all electronic and even if I need to keep any paper document I put it in a folder. When the folder has no more room, I start using a new folder. That's it.

        BTW, I've recently finished reading 'Keeping found things found' which is about personal information management. Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Keeping-Found-...5825491&sr=8-1 . Highly recommended.

        Comment


        • #5
          very individual

          This is a little individual but here a few things that work for me:

          For paper filing, if the item or concept is very, very important and it can be filed under more than one title, then I will make a dummy folder that tells me where it actually is.

          A surprising number of really important things can be grouped in one heading such as personal papers. "Insurance-auto and home" can probably be generic if you pay it every six months and don't need to retrieve it often. Insurance related to your own business might merit a title like :____(name of business)--insurance, where it would live with other folder related to expenses and operation of the business.

          If the material refers to items we own then they are in yellow folder labeled "Lighting and Fans-- we own", while I have plain folder for general information on how to install, select, etc. But if the contents are very limited, like alarm system, then I will still use only the yellow folder because we own it and put any additional information in that folder. If I am interested in something and start collecting clippings and photos etc, I will start it in a manila folder such as "Oriental rugs", but it will be decades before I own one and its provenance in a yellow folder.

          One suggestion I have is to make a list of your file headings and map of your system. The more you make a head of time the better because you are less likely to invent new categories. The number of new categories is potentially infinite. If you refer back to your list you will less likely to make a new folder.

          As a rule only make new categories if it will: speed locating the file for put incoming info into, speed retrieval, decrease the chance of error. Don't make a new category because it is intellectually appealing, consistent, or because someone else uses it--unless that kind of think is really valuable to you. Do make a new category for a project if you will be borrowing reference material from a folder but not using the entire contents and you will be taking it somewhere out of the office or your home because you could lose it.

          The really super simple approach which works for my partner (but not me) is to keep everything important that is permanent (not a project) in one file--no overhead in making folders, no overhead in hunting a folder to put something in it or to see if you are making a redundant category, and when you need an item you just spread everything out and hunt through it.
          Last edited by Jamie Elis; 02-10-2010, 06:04 PM. Reason: punctuation

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