Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Universal Filing

If you're going to carry actionable papers backwards and forwards between work (and you are), then you need to carry a document folder in your bag. This folder is only allowed to carry actionable things.

Carry the folder with you regardless of whether it contains anything, because the time will come when some important document needs to cross the great divide life/work divide. A half-complete filing system is a useless filing system - it's not enough to be carrying random pieces of paper around with you half your life, hoping that somewhere in the back of your mind you remember that there's that thing you should be doing about that piece of paper that's floating around somewhere.

Life's more important than that.

The rules are:
  • Use it exclusively. If your partner wants you to take a document to work the following day, train them to put it in the folder and then tell you. There will never come a time where it is more usefu lto throw the piece of paper randomly into your bag.
  • Putting something in it take 10 seconds. If you come across a piece of paper that needs to cross the divide, put it in the folder immediately; there is to be no stack of papers that are waiting to go in the folder, this stack will remain on your desk and in the back of your mind for days.
  • Regularly process it. Make going through the folder a part of your daily Inbox Emptying.
  • Label the folder. This is important. Don't ask for an explanation. Make it a neat little label with a prissy well defined font. Making it official means you'll use it.
  • Only ACTIONABLE things allowed. Even if the action is "File at home". The second that you put a truly random piece of junky junk in there the entire folder stops being a precious portable Inbox and becomes another pile of Randomness. You have too much Randomness in your life already.

1 comment:

Matthew Cornell said...

I carry the following folders with me at all times:

o action support (any individual papers that relate to actions in my list)
o inbox (for transferring papers between offices, or for receipts, etc. collected while traveling)
o read/review (for "between" moments)
o relevant project folders (ones I'm currently working on)
o legal pad (for capture)