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Miscellaneous is not a category

Last week’s blog outlined six steps to organizing a desktop. The steps begin by identifying the different themes of your work. Each theme is a category. When each category has been identified, two things must be true.

  1. Each category must be mutually exclusive. That means it only contains the information about one subject. It must be exclusive from the themes of other folders.
  2. Each category must be collectively exhausted. That means that every file belongs somewhere. If there is a file that doesn’t seem to belong anywhere, then there are not enough categories.

Establishing fulsome categories that adhere to these two rules of being mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive means everything belongs somewhere and you know where each of those things are.

A couple years ago I looked at my elaborate hard-copy filing system and thought it was overly laborious for my needs, since most of my work is digital. I made a change. I now have one folder labelled with the name of the year.

Everything I worked on in that year, goes in that folder. This works especially well because I also use an agenda. Actual pen to paper. In that book goes all sorts of information. Phone numbers, meeting notes, notes from books or courses, everything. That, along with all of the lose paper I have acquired or generated within that year go in a folder and are forever stored for reference.

If you work mostly with digital files too, this style may work for your hard-copy documents as well. Just remember, everything belongs somewhere.

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