Where do you store reference files?

Date: Monday, February 20, 2012 by GTD Times Staff

Where is the majority of your Reference stored these days? In GTD terms, your Reference

these days, what works well for you about that over paper?

Or, if you’re mostly paper, what works well about that over digital?

29 Responses to “Where do you store reference files?”

  1. Diego Zamboni says:

    These days, most of my reference material is in fact digital, and goes into Evernote. It’s easy to file almost everything, and it’s searchable.

    For paper things, I keep a traditional A-Z reference file as described in the GTD book.

  2. Gilles says:

    95 % of my work comes from Outlook.
    So, my reference files ara mainly digital, classified by project.


  3. Ady Coles says:

    I’m mostly digital. All my reference material is stored in Evernote. I put emails, documents, anything and everything in there.

    When it comes to the odd paperwork, I have a filing cabinet and an excellent tickler file (see http://acol.es/wM8vwG – Amazon), although I “scan when I can”.

  4. Walter van den Broek says:

    Most reference material is digital and resides in evernote. Previously I used dropbox but this has been replaced by evernote. Some very large files or very important files are kept in a traditional A-Z file.

  5. Blaise says:

    Except for tax papers that contains too much sensible data to be put online, everything is either digital or digitalise and put on evernote.

  6. Josh says:

    Most of my reference is digital.

    I have a traditional A-Z paper filing system as described in the GTD book as well.

    For my digital reference I mirror the paper filing system by creating a folder for each letter of the alphabet (in a ‘Reference’ top-level folder).

    I keep the subfolder names consistent with the paper folder labels for easy cross-reference (i.e. paper folder with label “taxes – 2011” and digital folder named “taxes – 2011” in the “t” dir).

  7. Mike Saunders says:

    I am mainly digital. I use a combination of Evernote, Dropbox and and internal wiki for my business. My main desire is to be able to access the content though a cloud service.

    This works well for content originally in digital formats but some content I receive is still in physical form (CD’s, documents, contracts and DVD’s). In this case I find a simple filing cabinet works the best.

  8. satish says:

    Articles marked for later reading will go to http://www.instapaper.com.

    Once read, future reference material will go to OneNote.

  9. Shane Mackintosh says:

    I use Evernote for everything now. It’s taken me a while to get everything in there but it makes my life so much easier now.

    I move email and documents in to there, I type reference notes and scan any paper documents I receive that need to be filed.

    The good thing with Evernote is you can easily search all your files and the documents you’ve saved. I have the desktop version installed and then the app on my iPhone and iPad.

  10. OogieM says:

    I have both paper and digital reference files. Paper is how much of what I have came to me and for some things it’s a lot easier to pull out paper to review it.

    My digital reference is all in DEVONThink. I refuse to put anything personal or important in any cloud system. I do not trust anybody but myself with my data. I tried a paid Evernote account for a year but the encryption was clumsy and the limits on numbers of notebooks frustrating. DT was so much more flexible and easier to get started with. Things got even better once I got sync to work.

    I have several DT databases, some are references to indexed files that exist on my computer. Others contain the contents of the files and are synced with my iPhone.

  11. Harold Zimmer says:

    I mostly use a digital system, the two systems I use are Springpad and Sugar Sync. Additionally I use a Neat portable scanner which allows me to scan business cards, receipts and documents which then can be handled in whatever manner is appropriate. Another program that is great for digital use is the PersonalBrain, this is a great tool for capturing thoughts, actions, mindmapping etc.

    I keep my paper system to a minimum but use a standard labeling filing system.

  12. Mary says:

    Evernote. Every week when I did my scanning I also scanned a few historic files and eventually emptied two five-drawer lateral cabinets. I just throw the mail in a pile now and scan it once a week. I can’t face dealing with it until it is digital. And of course everything electronic just goes straight in.

  13. Barry Millichap says:

    For me its Evernote.

    For electronic documents these are typed / copied / clipped in and then categorised accordingly.

    For paper documents, these are scanned and uploaded.

    Evernote then gives me a single source of reference, that is searchable, and can be accessed from any device I have.

  14. Massimo says:

    Basically I’ve all in Evernote, recently I’ve started to use it also for my GTD list instead to use Omnifocus (used for approximately 2 year with a 6 months pause to try the elegance of Things). So now all my reference are in Evernote, but for the today “must do” items I’ve discovered the recent Clear for iPhone that’s really beautiful to handle simple lists.
    For the paper I have the tickler file and project folder (the blue one of GTD store!).

  15. Stuart Helm says:

    My virtual office has to be mobile, so I was forced to move away from paper (which is my preferred medium).
    I started using Microsoft OneNote, created a ‘tickler’ section in it labeled A-Z, created sections for Current, for horizons of focus, enter all my notes into it and when I am done I store them in a HISTORY section (just in case) but I have yet to need to re-reference these items.
    It doesn’t work for paper items, but I can copy and paste most paper items into it by going to the company website they reference in the paper. (such as the local theater’s next play)

  16. Eric Mack says:

    As a long time Lotus Notes user, I have multiple reference databases set up in Lotus Notes. With eProductivity for Lotus Notes, I have each of my reference databases set up with my GTD system so that I can access my reference information or even drag an email into my reference system.

    When I help Lotus Notes users that do not use eProductivity, I show them how they can use the Lotus Notes ‘Notebook’ as a personal reference database. It works well.

  17. Bob says:

    Can someone who uses Evernote give me a brief idea of how the folders are structured for your reference files? I have Evernote but have not really used it as it is a blank slate and I have no mental idea of how to start to organize.

  18. ErgoOrgo says:

    It’s interesting to see so much interest in Evernote. I definitely am in the digital camp – enter once, view everywhere, backed up automatically. My preferred tools are a mix of:

    Simplenote for keeping lists and articles;

    todo.txt for managing my tasks;

    Instapaper for articles to read later

    Reeder starred articles for reference articles

    Inbox for emails I need to action by replying to

    Documents folder (synced with Dropbox) of scans and documents of both working and archive material.

    I feel like a more perfect system is out there – i.e. all my web articles dumped into Simplenote, but not sure it is worth the hassle, so this list of a handful of places I need to review and visit (all from my laptop or phone) works fine to date.

  19. Mary says:

    RE reference folder structure in Evernote, I have none. It is fully searchable. I do tag some things with references such as the conference where I got those ads/business cards/articles, but Evernote works best IMHO the more you trust the search.

    Re the person who finds OneNote not useful for paper… You can scan into say PDF and then make the PDF “print” onto a OneNote page. You can then type comments all over it. I use EverNote for my storage, but if I’m writing an article or something I will bring my references together into a OneNote file to write on.

  20. Fraser says:

    Digital. A lot of my reference material falls into multiple categories (by product, by customer) so a simple tree structure doesn’t work. The sheer volume also makes it difficult to keep any sort of system organized. So instead I depend on a good search engine.

    I’ve been using X1 (www.x1.com) for years and have had good success as it searches almost all file formats, MSOutlook, Lotus Notes, IMAP, and the latest version can also search your gmail, Yahoo!, AOL, social networks, twitter, etc.

  21. Linda Bell says:

    Google “GTD evernote”. There are bunches of suggestions & help.

    But then tailor it to your way so you’ll use it.

    I have my life “goals” [family, spiritual, etc] as folders. + Daily, Weekly, Soon, Monthly, Yearly, Future, Reference. Some are stacks by project.

    Everything else is tabbed, a lot of 2 & 3 layer stacks. Instead of 1-31, I have 1-7, 8-14, etc & its part of my weekly review. Monthy I have all the months, numbered 01-12 so they sort in order.

    I keep my PWs in another program so I can share Evernote comfortably.

  22. John Lanza says:

    Evernote takes care of all things digital. I still have a free items in physical reference files as necessary.

  23. GMTB says:

    Most of my work comes through email, so I’ve learned to make good use of Outlook (my company’s choice of email program) and its search capabiltities.

    My company also uses SharePoint and Lotus Notes. I’ve tried to encourage metatags in the first and consistent naming methodologies in the other.

  24. Todd Lohenry says:

    Evernote. Period. Here’s a post about how I use it in my gtd workflow; http://e1evation.com/2012/02/24/evernote-the-key-to-my-productivity-and-getting-things-done-gtd-workflow/

  25. Todd Lohenry says:

    Sorry. One more thing. The key for me is that Evernote is an uber-container that is searchable and syncronizable to every digital device I own…

  26. Akshara says:

    I use Springpad. (I had used Evernote earlier, currently I am using Springpad)

  27. Ramesh L says:

    My reference folders are both digital and paper. Paper is alphabetical categories like “Bank, House, Loan etc.”.

    Work digital reference goes to eProductivity reference DB (since my organization uses Lotus Notes). This is only available to me when I have my computer, but that is fine.

    Personal digital reference is Evernote (always available with me, even accessible from my normal phone with just a browser and GPRS connection)

  28. Ladislav says:

    Brandon Thanks for the comments. Since you would be aalumnly adding keywords, there is no difference between printing to OneNote from a file (such as a PDF) or pasting in a clipped image. The reason I print from PDF is just convenience My office copier delivers the scanned images via email as an attached PDF. The quickest way for me to get them into OneNote is to just double-click the attachment and hit print.

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