Filing Away

One big part of this system is getting the stuff you want to keep but don’t need out of the way, but in a place where you can easily find it if you need it. In other words, get a filing system. From page 96:

A simple and highly functional personal reference system is critical to this process. The filing system at hand is the first thing I assess before beginning the workflow process in anyone’s office. As I noted in chapter 2, the lack of a good general-reference system can be one of the greatest obstacles to implementing a personal management system.

What does that mean? It simply means that when you have something you want to keep and look at later, it should go into some sort of system where it’s out of your way, but you can easily find it when you look for it.
I just use a simple A-Z filing system for everything. I just name folders with the most logical name I can think of at the time – Joe – Artwork is one, for example, that contains a few highlights of my son’s artistic output. That way, it’s out of the way, but I can retrieve it later on if I need it. Everything is simply A to Z based on the name at the top of the folder.
I try to keep all of the shelves in my filing cabinet balanced (except for the top shelf, which I handle differently – but I’ll talk about that later on). Right now, all of the files I have fit on two of the shelves – A to M and N to Z. If the shelves start to get out of balance, I move a letter to the other drawer to keep them in balance. If either one starts to get full, I’ll just annex another drawer (which is empty right now and, honestly, is my spot for hiding gifts).
Whenever an item comes in that I need to save, I file it away. If I don’t need to save it, I chuck it. If I need to retrieve it, I pull out the file, look it over, do whatever I need to do with it, and toss it back into my “to be filed” basket when I’m done.
I also keep plenty of fresh folders nearby so that I never feel bad about starting a new one. If I need a new folder, I usually know it right off the bat and it’s pretty poorly effective if I’m trying to hedge my bets over a simple folder.
One final note: the best time to do this is over a holiday weekend where you won’t be interrupted anyway. A holiday like the daytime portion of the Fourth of July is a great time to do this.

*from email. and for remimder.

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