Law School
Personal Finance

Redefine Organization As Search

One of my goals during the winter break is to revamp my organizational system. This past year, I’ve tried implementing Getting Things Done and had moderate success. My biggest problem was that I had way too many inboxes and complicated file systems that I spent more time trying to figure out where I put stuff and maintaining my system than I did getting things done.

Thankfully, Leo Babauta from Zen Habits produced a stellar eBook called Zen to Done that gave me some great ideas on how to simplify my organizational system.

While not in his book, one thing that I’m doing to simplify is stopping my filing system on the computer. On my computer, I would create these complicated nested mess of folders for each area of my life. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out where they should go and I always seemed to forget where I put the file when I needed to bring it up.

My Gmail account was the same as well. I had separate folders for different kinds of email and the email automatically filtered to their respective folder. I started to notice that with this system, I would miss emails. Plus it was annoying to have to click through each folder to check my mail. I hate useless clicks.

The solution:Quit filing and start searching

I’ve stopped filing completely on my computer. Instead, I leverage Google’s search capability for my computer organizational needs.

Organizing your computer. I’ve installed Google Desktop on my computer. This amazing app makes searching your computer as easy as searching the web. It does a full text search of all your documents, music, and videos and brings you the most relevant searches. It will also bring you emails and webpages that are relevant to your search.

Organizing Gmail. I’ve gotten rid of the different folders on Gmail. I now just use the main inbox. It makes going through my email much more easier than having to check four different folders. When ever I want to save an email, I just Archive it. When I need it again, I just use Gmail’s search function and type in a few words that I remember the email being about. Simple.

Organizing paper documents.Unfortunately, Google has not entered the realm of organizing paper documents, so I’m using a simple file box. I’ve thought about digitizing my paper documents so I can take advantage of Google Desktop’s search feature. However, because the scanner I have is old, digitizing would be a chore. Mark Shead of Productivity 501 has a great write up on how to go paperless.

How do you all organize your computer? Do you have any ideas to make digital organization more efficient? Drop a line in the comment box.