Managing material (Support material vs. Reference material)
I’m trying to implement the GTD method since a couple of month already and now I’m at finding the best way to organize my material (both support material and reference material). Most of it are electronic files so for now I would like to focus on electronic files only. I would be glad to get your suggestions/comments about my questions.
- I use 4 folders (‘Inbox’ / ‘Action’ / ‘Waiting’ / ‘References’) to manage my emails in Outlook. Emails that I want to keep are actually stored within a month folder (e.g. ‘01-jan’) within the ‘References’ folder and they are sorted by sender because I usually remember when and who sent me the email that I need to find.
-I save all attachments on my hard disk in My Documents. It works OK for me.
Do you have any suggestion/comment about that workflow ?
I have 6 folders into ‘My Documents’ (‘Inbox’ / ‘Support Material’ / ‘Reference Material’ / ‘Waiting For’ / ‘Someday’ / ‘To Read’). I often have trouble to determine where to store some material (support vs. references) that are related to projects but that I don’t really need to complete them, let’s see an example.
In my job we received many letters from the client. Some letters will stay useless for me but I might have to act on some other (if my boss delegate me on it) and there is some that I want to find quickly because they contain information (drawing, client statement, …) related to project I am responsible for and that I might have to look back (e.g. if someone ask me about it).
I store all letters in the ‘Reference Material’ folder within ‘Letter Client_name’ and they are sorted by letter number. Then, I copy the ones that are related to my main projects in the ‘Support Material’ folder within the ‘Project’ folder relevant.
Personally I would think it is not effective to copy reference (you wouldn’t do that with paper). Should I remove from the ‘Letter Client_name’ the one that I copied in my ‘Project’ folder? But then if I’m looking for a letter that I only know the number, I’m screwed up because all letters aren’t in the same folder anymore. On top of that I don’t really know if, in my case, it is support material because I don’t need it to complete my project, it is just information that I want handy. I would think that support material are only the files that I create (or modify) + the files that I used for that.
What would you do ?
I edit some of my documents quite often and I always save them in a different name (with the date) so after a while I can have a lot of past version of a document. Should I constantly (during Weekly Review) move these old versions somewhere in the ‘References Material’ folder? Or elsewhere (completed / archive project folder) ?
Some documents are related and useful for completing different projects. Should I copy these documents? Once again I don’t like copying files because then you are never sure to work with the last version of the document.
How you manage that ?
I read in a couple of post that it is a best practice to limit the depth of the folder tree to the minimum. I have doubts about it because in my case I can have up to 100 documents for a subsystem (that I keep within /Reference Material/System/Subsystem/Topic/). I could limit the depth by naming my folder System_Subsystem_Topic but then it would become uneasy to find the right folder among the long list of folder (eyes get distracted with too much to read).
What is your opinion?
I usually take my meeting notes in a notebook and later process my notes by typing it in an Evernote note that I tag with the project name. I’m having trouble to type my note directly during meetings but I’m trying to work on it.
Thank you for your time.