Copyright © 2011 Marlon Ribunal. Visit the original article at http://www.productivitybits.com/file-system-preparation-is-an-essential-step-in-getting-things-done.
After purging the unnecessary stuff that mounted in your desk and anywhere else, it’s now time to prepare your filing system. Chaos can easily break anywhere in your living space if no filing system is set up to hold the different materials that you accumulate as you work. Your workflow, either paper-based or online, must include “station” for each process that passes from point to point. If you are like most GTD practitioners, the starting point is the “inbox”. Everything goes into the inbox before any actual process can take place.
Physical File System
Whatever tasks you perform on your job, you need a physical file system. If you are like me, the desk drawers in your cubicle make up a good storage for your physical filing system.Your desk drawers will hold all the materials that are necessary for your job. Folders and any other paper holders are the bases of the physical system. Your file system must be proximate to where you actually do your work for convenience of access. That is why the drawers in your desk are the perfect location for your physical system.
One important thing to remember in setting up your physical system is this: less is better. The point here is to avoid the clutter while maintaining your stuff organized. The main purpose of your physical file system is to serve as temporary storage. Set aside a drawer for your reference materials which should remain separate from your file system. As much as possible, only materials that are needed to your active projects must be in your file system. All other materials not part of the current projects must either go to the reference materials or to the trash (remember, purge).
Digital File System
Your work processes might be more efficient if digital documents remain digital as you work on them. Converting your physical documents into digital form is a good option to consider. You may agree that digital files are easier to handle than their physical counterpart. Apart from the fact that this set up is considered “green”, it is also convenient to transfer digital files from one location to another if required.
The setup of your digital file system depends on your preference. Arranging file folders by “context” perfectly makes sense if you adhere by the GTD principles. In general, you can take each project as context. All pertinent files go to their appropriate folders according to context (or project). If that does not work in your current setup, then any other setup that makes sense to you will do.
Cloud-Based File System
Another good option is the cloud-based system. Cloud services such as the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) are becoming popular as cloud computing continue to barge in the mainstream. The pay-as-you-go pricing model for most of these cloud storage services are considered cheaper than the traditional onsite storage system. A popular option for the masses is Box.net which has a free service for personal use.
The advantage of the cloud-based storage as file system is the ease of distribution. Since the system is based on the cloud, location is not an issue when there is a need to collaborate or to share the files. The commercial cloud services are considered scalable and secure by standard.
Your file system is an essential part of your productivity system. Without a solid file system, keeping organized becomes a daunting task. The ability to organize is one part of any productivity system that requires effort and resources. A good file system helps to keep the balance between organizing all the process and the workflow itself.
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