Coming Soon: Posts on Filing

The most common question I received on email was actually a request to do a post on filing in general. Lots of people wrote in to say that learning about filing is one of their greatest productivity issues.

What categories should you use for your computer files? What are the best practices for filing in general? How should one manage paper-based files (which, although secondary to electronic files, still have a place)? Is there a consistent category structure (or at least set of principles) to implement across your whole computer (documents, pictures, videos, iTunes, iPhoto, etc.) and then also your paper-based files?

I’ll be talking about all these things in the near future. Filing is a huge issue. A lot of time (and therefore money!) goes into the documents we create, and so it only makes sense that they should also be organized in an orderly, easy-to-access way. Making our documents and other files maximally accessible and useful is just as important as creating them in the first place.

If you set up your computer files right, you will have a streamlined workflow and save yourself a ton of time. If you don’t, your workflow is obstructed and just becomes less enjoyable in general.

Fortunately, there are some really solid principles on how to organize your files. I’ve done a bunch of research on filing (it started when I was organizing the DG website — there is a lot of overlap between website structure and filing, because both have to do with information architecture), and several winters ago I spent about 50 hours (yes, to my shame!) going through a process of trial and error to get everything right and document my conclusions.

I hope that the time I spent figuring out filing will save others a lot of time and help show a more enjoyable way to work as well.

So, that’s coming soon.

  • Bryan

    I am patiently but anxiously waiting for what you have to say on this. Any idea when you’ll post about it?

  • Matt


    Thanks for your patience. I will be doing these posts as soon as I can set aside a large chunk of time to get them written. I hope they don’t end up being too long, but there will be something substantial.

    With next Monday being a holiday, I have my eye on that as a possible chance to get them written.

  • Bryan

    Thanks Matt. Will continue in patience and anxiousness. Thanks too for all your work on this stuff–not just to write the blog entries, but to also take the energy and time to figure this stuff out and then have the graciousness to share you labor. It has been immensely helpful for me.

  • Matt

    Thanks, I appreciate that!

  • Brian Current

    I am also anxiously awaiting the filing posts! i can’t wait. After reading and now implementing the system for email and lists, i am finding myself not knowing where to save my ‘archive’ emails on my PC! (i find myself creating lots of sub-folders, but then not knowing where i saved something later).

    I guess work efficiency is the big picture, involving every aspect of the work flow.

    Thank you for this site!

  • Zach Florence

    Matt, thanks for your blog. Its been a real help. Did miss the post on filing or has it yet to come? Hope to hear your insights here soon!


  • Matt


    Thanks for reading. Filing posts are still to come. There’s a lot to say on that, and I’m looking forward to it.


  • Hugh Medal

    I am looking forward to this also