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30 Dec

Easy go, easy come

Datum: 2009-12-30 12:00

What do you do with all that good-to-have-mate­r­i­al, your ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al, the things you need from time to time that are so sim­ple to put in piles so it won’t get lost, and which you then nev­er find when you need them the most, just because they are some­where at the bot­tom of the piles?

The whole idea with this type of mate­r­i­al is for it to be out of your way when you don’t need it, it should be easy to put away and easy to find when­ev­er you need it.
My per­son­al favourite solu­tion to this prob­lem is a care­ful­ly thought-out sus­pen­sion fil­ing system.

Try this

Get your­self a large set of sus­pen­sion fold­ers and a suit­able box to keep them in (or an old charm­ing fil­ing cab­i­net if you pre­fer that). Tag the fold­ers with the let­ters of the alpha­bet, one fold­er for each let­ter, and place them in the box.

Close the door, switch off your tele­phone and if you have a shared cal­en­dar sys­tem at your office, book a one hour long meet­ing with your­self. Bring out the first pile. Go through it item by item and throw away every­thing you won’t need again, and sort the mate­r­i­al you want to be able to find lat­er under a suit­able let­ter in the fil­ing system.

What will your search phrase be?

When you choose a let­ter to file your mate­r­i­al under, think about what search phrase” you would use when you want find it again. If it is a typ­i­cal poten­tial client, a prospect, then file it under the let­ter P, as in prospects or poten­tial client. Is it a pos­si­ble speak­er for a future sem­i­nar, file under S as in speak­er. If the mate­r­i­al unques­tion­ably con­cerns your for­mer client Acme Indus­tries, it obvi­ous­ly ends up under the let­ter A.

Ded­i­cat­ed folders

If you think of an area (a cer­tain cus­tomer, or project, etc) which def­i­nite­ly will con­tain a lot of data or mate­r­i­al, cre­ate a sep­a­rate fold­er and place it in the alpha­bet­i­cal order among the rest of the sus­pen­sion folders. 

Always make sure you have got a sup­ply of emp­ty fold­ers. This will make it eas­i­er for you to cre­ate a new ded­i­cat­ed fold­er when­ev­er you need one. If it takes the slight­est effort to file things away, the risk is that you ignore it and either put the mate­r­i­al in a stack for sort­ing lat­er” or put it in one of the stan­dard fold­ers, where you will have trou­ble find­ing the right paper when you need it the most. If you find it too hard to locate the data you are look­ing for, you will expe­ri­ence that sus­pen­sion fold­ers aren’t your thing, and you will soon be back to piles again.

Good looks takes effort, but it might be worth it

If it is impor­tant for you, for instance, what the labels look like, then take your time to care­ful­ly write them in a way that appeals to you, mak­ing it a plea­sure to browse through the fold­ers. If it is more impor­tant to get the mate­r­i­al out of your way quick­ly, write them in a way that is easy and quick, so that the labelling itself doesn’t turn into an obstacle.

Too easy to be true?

OK, this may sound like a very con­ven­tion­al and sim­ple solu­tion, but trust me when I say that there are more piles of paper around than sus­pen­sion fil­ing systems. 

A well-con­struct­ed sus­pen­sion fil­ing sys­tem is a just as easy as it is genius, way to keep your desk and office clear of papers you don’t need right now, at the same time as it makes it very easy to find them when you do need them.

The next three, vol­un­tary, steps

  1. If you want to, decide right now how many sus­pen­sion fold­ers you will buy, when you will buy them and where. 
  2. Decide where you will keep them. 
  3. Sched­ule in your agen­da right away that par­tic­u­lar hour when you will browse the first pile. 

Do you do it differently?

If you’re not a fan of sus­pen­sion fold­ers at all and main­tain anoth­er sys­tem entire­ly to get rid of the piles, tell me about it in a com­ment below.