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Chapter 10. A Crash Course in Getting Or... > The Wonderful World of Filing - Pg. 102

A Crash Course in Getting Organized 102 Pending Project Files Most people don't set up files for projects until that project is officially underway. The problem with that approach is that lots of paper and information is likely to come trickling in (if not pouring in) between the time you first find out about the project and the time it starts. What ends up happening is that important papers and bits of information are scattered all over the place. Then when it's time to get to work, you can't find the information you need. You're likely to procrastinate at that point because you don't have what you need to get started and finding all the information seems like too much of a chore. The answer to this chaos is to start a file for a project the minute you find out about it. Then whenever you come across information related to that topic, you can drop it in the file. When you have phone conversations or exchange e-mails about the project, you can file your notes in one place to have a complete record of the communication. That's all there is to pending project files. Just set up one folder and use it as the one and only place you keep information related to that project. (You might also start a file or folder on your computer, too, if you want to save e-mail, typed notes, or downloaded information more easily.) Keep pending project files in a file stand or a file box that you keep in a convenient enough spot to make it likely that you'll put things in it, but not right in front of you; you don't want to stress out over projects that haven't yet started. Action Tactic If you tend to stuff your manila or hanging file folders pretty full, consider using pocket or jacket folders. These folders have enclosed sides to keep papers from falling out and accordion-pleated bottoms to ex-pand as needed. Some even have a special little pocket to keep a computer disk in. Current Project Files Current project files are essentially the same as the pending files except that the project is already underway, so the big differences here are location and size of files. You should keep current project files within easy reach of your desk chair or wherever you'll be working. I'm a big fan of file stands for this purpose because the files stay visible and very accessible. When you jot down an important phone number on a sticky note and need to keep it on hand for a current project, you're more likely to put it in that project's file if the file folder is in sight than if it's buried in a drawer. As for size of the files, you might find that a project has enough stuff related to it to warrant setting up a file box with multiple hanging folders in it. That, too, should be kept nearby, perhaps on a bookshelf near your desk or on your desk if space allows. Administrative Files Some files need to be fairly accessible, but not necessarily in your face. A file cabinet is fine for administrative files that you need to refer to occasionally, maybe about once a week or even less often. Your household administrative files might include · Bills you've paid; use one hanging file folder for each account, such as credit card companies, utilities, phone companies, and the like