There are systems and tools to help with the organization of your files and file system. What is often stressed in any productivity model such as “Getting things Done” (GTD) is organization from front end to back. The simple reason is if you can’t find an important resource, not only will what you’re doing get slowed down if not stopped but it will add greatly to your stress.
In these productivity models, tools such as efficient task managers are stressed for the front end and solid places of storage (43 Folders in GTD) is stressed both for support of the process and as an all purpose bucket. Thus tools like DEVONthink Pro Office or Evernote are very important.
File System and Tagging
Tools to support the very process of cataloguing your data files are also important. Products such as DEVONthink are excellent at doing this. However, some prefer dedicated tools for this purpose only. Three tools that are fairly well known in the area of cataloguing files and tagging them is Doo, iDocument and Leap. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to look at leap. I find it the best of the bunch simply in the way it works which makes it something you can easily relate to.
The cornerstone of all three systems and many others is tagging. There are reasons for this. In fact, in Apples finder in Mavericks it now supports tagging. The tagging in finder actually will work with Leaps tagging system transparently.
Leap is a well known file system manager. If you’re the kind of person who likes shows on a product ScreenCastsOnline has done one on Leap. Todd Olthoff presents the various facets of Leap in a 30 minute productions title “Tagging and Organising Files with Leap.” In looking at various solutions it was the one I related to best and found by far the easiest to understand and work with.
Leap isn’t a product you need change your whole filing structure. If it doesn’t make sense you might want to alter. However, Leap allows you to tag your files and find files based on those tags. The big benefit of the tagging approach is you can find files across directories that are related or are found by the very nature of their tag. So as an example, a group of files each found in separate directories but all tagged financial now reveal themselves in this more or less flat file structure. Their might be something in common about these files as they are all tagged financial but of real benefit is they physically reside in different spots but are brought together by nature of their tag.
You could have files all of a different type but tagged with a project keyword and thus are all found and brought together related by nature of the project.
Being able to work with your Data
The last three articles have intrinsically all been about being able to work with your data. In the articles on Logmein and Parallels Access the idea is really about being able to work with your data anytime, anywhere. This is very powerful.
This article really rests along the same vein. It’s about being able to both find your data as all too often we misplace it or forget how we filed something and then working with data that is related.
We have a natural tendency to try to file like data in the same folder. However, this system breaks down very easily when we have to choose between this place or that and choose such and such as it seems the most logical. Tagging the file often gets around this problem of geographic locale and allows us to pull like data or data relevant to each other for the purposes of getting something done that we could not accomplish using strictly an hierarchical file folder system.
Having a system we can work with easily that we can relate to is a large part of this battle. Some file system aids are beautifully conceptually but get too difficult to manage in practice. They don’t work quite the way we need them to. Thus, it’s easy for us to choose a system we think is correct, start working with it only to get frustrated and give up on it when there might be significant benefit.
Leap seems to be one of those systems that doesn’t demand that we change. It might require some energy to perfect in terms of best practice. I, for my part, found that I could easily relate to the system as it is very finder based and doesn’t require this major change in the way I function. It simply adds to that function. It sports tons of features that if I did want to take it to the nth degree I probably could but it is flexible enough in that there isn’t much it asks of me for some major returns.