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GTD Mastery 100: Call for Help

To read my complete journey to GTD Mastery see the main post.

This is going to be a different kind of post in the GTD Mastery series. Today, I’m asking our readers to help me with:

Step 15 to GTD Mastery: I have a paper file system which is fun and fast to use, perhaps using an automatic labeler.


That’s right. I don’t have a filing cabinet or an automatic labeler (waits for the gasps of horror to subside). I don’t have any significant volume of incoming paper in my life right now. Any physical paper items (e.g. newpaper articles and receipts) that I want to keep for reference are scanned and uploaded to my server and backed up. I have all my bank statements sent online and have setup online bill payments. I’ve kept a 3-ring binder for my each of my courses over the years and they are put in storage bins upon completion or thrown out.

Nevertheless, I foresee a need for a filing system in the future. I’d like to implement it before classes start again this Monday. I’d appreciate any recommendations and user experiences with your filing cabinet and labeler of choice.

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Related posts:

  1. GTD Mastery 100 Series
  2. GTD Mastery 100: Step 1
  3. GTD Mastery 100: Step 4
  4. GTD Mastery 100: Step 12
  5. GTD Mastery 100: Step 8

7 Responses to “GTD Mastery 100: Call for Help”

  1. My advice is to avoid a paper-based system entirely. Paper requires physical space; you can’t search it; you have to lug it around if you move (or just rearrange the furniture); and a leak/fire/pizza sauce destroys it forever.

    See this post on 43 Folders, which made me giddy:

  2. Chris Y. says:

    I’ve been tempted with a paperless system before and the ScanSnap could make that a reality. Thanks for the great read.

    How about everyone who is using paper still? I know you’re out there.

  3. I use a filebox, one with 13 sections, which greatly limits the amount of paper I can keep. Although, to be fair, I am quite the fan of magazine clippings and have a binder full of them as well, however, they don’t take up much room and as I try ideas or fully utilize an article or photo, I discard it.

    I think with any system, paper or electronic, the key to keeping it under control is to continually cull it. Talk with a tax professional and find out what financial records you should keep for your protection. Talk to your adviser and find out what papers or journals might be useful in the future. For any records or papers that I can access online, I discard the paper, including course materials.

    I use paper but I only keep what is immediately useful or what brings me joy. (I’m still reticent to trust everything to electronic sources, especially in an unstable economy with the rising cost of electricity.)

  4. paulette says:

    In my opinion, it doesnt matter whether its a hard or soft copy,. It depends upon your usage.There are pros and cons of both filing system.

  5. Mike says:

    I have a PTouch labeler. It cost $50 or so. The label refills are $20 a pop. It’s a little annoying when they run out of labels without warning.

    Another option I’ve been using is buying Avery label templates for file folders ($20 for 750 labels) and printing 30 or so at a time. I keep a Word file going until it’s full enough to print out. Works fine, and allows me to play with the font a little bit more.

    My work generates a lot of paper, so I have a few file cabinets. I also carry around file boxes for my mobile office. You can start small and bump up the size as you need.

  6. Kyle W says:

    I agree and try to avoid a paper based system all together especially for college students. I know that I spend a lot of my time researching things online and a lot of my tasks and assignments are done on the computer so I think it kind of takes you out of the rhythm and throws in an unnecessary step in your process. I think a paper filing system though is more of a judgment call where you can use it more for Reference or Project Support Material. Most students don’t deal with memos and the amount of paper in a business world so I feel it would be a waste of time to create a filing system when there are online alternatives that can be accessed from any computer such as Remember the Milk, Sandy, or Vitalist. I personally use Remember the Milk for my filing system and a reference system for old assignments I’d like to keep (papers, homework, financial statements, etc). I can see the advantages of a paper system with labels in making you want to do something however I usually don’t do my work at one defined location it is spread out over a variety of places so it does not make sense because I’d have to file things multiple times. Putting things online in RTM makes it easy becuase I can use Jott, the Gmail plugin, or even a cell phone.

  7. Rice Blogger says:

    there is both pros and cons …but I will always prefer paperless