Avoiding Filing Systems That Aren’t by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

By meggin@meggin.com
In Writers
Jan 5th, 2013

manila foldersMy assistants and I are filing queens. Seriously. We should have tiaras. In this week’s tip, I’m going to recommend a certain type of software, “The Paper Tiger(R),” that is just terrific. You can order it (and get a free trial) by going to the Paper Tiger website.  You’ll see that there is a desktop or a cloud-based version.  I’ve used Paper Tiger software for nearly 13 years – and wouldn’t be without it.  It keeps me squared away on my filing (and finding what’s been filed!)

Anyway, on to truisms related to filing so you can avoid filing systems that aren’t:

  1. Stacks of paper are just that. Stacks. They are only good for starting fires.
  2. Random boxes (occasionally labeled) are not filing systems.
  3. Notebooks (much as I love them) are not necessarily organized.
  4. Alphabetical filing systems are rarely alphabetical (what word do you choose to file by?)
  5. Piles, even neat piles, are not filing systems. See #1.  So, here’s the solution: buy and use “The Paper Tiger” software. Here’s why:
  6. It’s organized by number. Visualize all the files in your cabinet having a number – starting with “1” and ending with a number that corresponds with your last file. This might be 67 or it might be 867). Visualize all your notebooks with numbers on the spine (rather than words). Visualize all the boxes in your storage unit with numbers on them.
  7. As you are inputting the information into your Paper Tiger database, you will identify the key words that you might think of to describe the file.
    Let’s say you have a file that is a list of editors you have met recently at a conference. You can list “Editors,” as the name of the file and then have “Phil, Betty, John, Betsy and Marcia,” “Philadelphia Writers Conference,” and on and on as your “key words.” When you type any (or all) of these words into your program, it will lead you to the numbered file.
  8. Finding files that you have “paper tigered” is as easy as using a good search engine. You type in a word or words and are directed to where you’ve stored the information.
  9. You can add files until the end of time, and you won’t be jamming them in a too-tight file drawer (because it’s organized by number, new files are added at the end).
  10. Other people can be trained to use your system and either file new items for you or retrieve files as you need them.

Note:  I use it this software everyday.  I have moved to the cloud-based version in the last year and am LOVING that.

© Meggin McIntosh, PhD (also known as “The PhD of Productivity”®). One of the ways that you can learn from Meggin about productive writing is through her 30 Articles in Just 30 Days program (www.30ArticlesinJust30Days.com).

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