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17 Apr

Out of sight, out of mind

Datum: 2013-04-17 09:17

I was work­ing with one of my indi­vid­ual ses­sion-mentees the oth­er day. We were review­ing what we had accom­plished so far and amongst the doc­u­ments we had been work­ing on, we found one we did not rec­og­nize. The name sound­ed famil­iar, but we felt unsure of what the doc­u­ment actu­al­ly contained. 

We opened it and saw that it was a pre­vi­ous ver­sion of a check­list she now uses which we cre­at­ed dur­ing one of the first ses­sions. We skimmed it through and real­ized that it was out­dat­ed. Sud­den­ly five min­utes had passed and we had need­less­ly lost the flow we were in.

Hard­ly once in a lifetime”

If this had been a rare occur­rence con­cern­ing a sin­gle file, it would not be much of a prob­lem. But, the more old doc­u­ments we leave lying amongst the more recent and updat­ed ones, the more time will be spent on going through these old doc­u­ments to deter­mine what they are about and if they are of any use to us. Hav­ing too many out­dat­ed doc­u­ments will def­i­nite­ly result in repeat­ed breaks in your work-flow. 

Con­scious­ly make an effort to remove or at least move the doc­u­ments which are no longer active or use­ful else­where so that you do not have to stum­ble across them again and again. 

This way you will not have to be dis­tract­ed by them and can focus on the mate­r­i­al you need to work with. Out of sight will become out of mind. 

Do this

  1. Decide what you from now on will name the dig­i­tal fold­ers where you place mate­r­i­al that might be irrel­e­vant but which you still want to save, just in case. The name could for instance include Archive” or _​old”.

  2. When you find a doc­u­ment in the Explor­er (or Find­er if you have a Mac) that is out of date, deter­mine if you can throw it away (which is prefer­able) or if you want to save it. 

  3. If you still need to keep it, put it in the archive-fold­er in the fold­er you are work­ing with at the moment (or cre­ate one if there isn’t one already). 

  4. Enjoy that you now only have to see the doc­u­ments you use fre­quent­ly and which are the most recent ver­sions of the doc­u­ments in question. 

Find the right doc­u­ment quicker

If you make sure to put all out­dat­ed doc­u­ments out of sight you will no longer have to waste time deter­min­ing what is out­dat­ed and what isn’t. You will not have to encounter old­er and out­dat­ed ver­sions of doc­u­ments which are named in more or less cre­ative ways (such as Draft of busi­ness plan, ver­sion 3‑most recent ver­sion-NOTE-this-is-the-most-cur­rent-ver­sion, with Tommy’s adjust­ments, under construction.docx”).

You will find the doc­u­ment you are look­ing for faster since there are few­er doc­u­ments in the same loca­tion that might dis­tract you. The down­side is that you will have many fold­ers all over the hard dri­ve that are all named _​old” (or some­thing like it), but per­haps you can live with that. 

What’s your way?

How do you make sure you only see what you are cur­rent­ly work­ing on? Feel free to leave a com­ment below.