Archiving Notecards

I am really close to going mostly if not all analog. However, while I like the idea of using notecards, I'm concerend about using them to take notes for the meetings I attend. Does anyone use note cards foe note taking and how do you archive them for future reference? How do you find them when you need them.

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Meeting Notes


I use them for note-taking in meetings all the time. Most of my meetings have to do with active projects, so when I'm done pulling off the to-dos, I file the cards in my 'project' section.

When I was working from a box, I had a tab for each project, and I just stuck the cards with the tab. I would staple together the cards from a single meeting.

Now, I have a binder setup with page protectors and I have one page protector set aside for each major project. So the cards go in the page protector.

I have a box set aside for 'done' stuff. I've got a tab for each month, so I can file whatever's done in a given month with that tab. That makes it easy to report my activities each month, which is a requirement for my boss. Just flip through the 'done' cards to see what I did so I can write it on my report. After I've done my report, the month batch gets a rubberband and a sticky saying which month/year it was, and it goes to the back of the box. When the box gets too full, the oldest month goes in the trash.

So, current and future 'stuff' goes in the binder. When it's done, it goes into a box, where it's collected for a month. At the end of the month, I file my report, then 'archive' the month to the back of the box. The box is big enough for at least six months worth of 'done' cards, and after that they go to the trash.

When a current project gets completed, I remove all the cards related to that project from my binder and put it in the Done box, where they get handled just like any other card.

So a card never leaves my binder until it's truly done. The only reason I'd need to look at it again later is when I file my report. Generally speaking, people have questions about active projects, not about 'done' stuff. So when someone needs a bit of info about something that happened at last week's project meeting (or whatever) it's still in my binder, in the page protector set aside for that project.

If people ask you about 'done' stuff on a regular basis, you might want to categorize your 'done' file so you can retrieve stuff you would need--project A, B, C, administrative tasks, personal, etc. It just depends on your job whether you'll have to retrieve long-dead info.

I have a somewhat similar system for my emails: folders set aside for each major project or topic, and when I'm done doing whatever was needed for the email, it gets filed in a folder. When my mailbox gets too large, I delete the oldest, most trivial messages first. If a project is still active, it doesn't ever get deleted until the mail system does it for me (when the message is six months old). There are a few cases when an important piece of mail is about to be auto-deleted by the system, but only a very few. There are several ways to deal with that--separate personal folders, re-forwarding it to myself, saving it to disk, etc.

I guess what I'm working up to is that sometimes you have to decide where your line in the sand will be. My company has decided that it is important NOT to keep emails longer than six months. Based on that, I developed my own criteria about which OTHER mails are not important to keep. And I have decided also that my index cards for any task that is completed are not really important to keep or refer to once they've been completed for a full calendar month. This changes my need for file space and organization.

So, when you are considering how to save and organize your stuff, first make sure the stuff you're looking at really NEEDS to be saved before you spend energy making a system.


File Folders are Key

When I started getting really serious about converting back to a paper-based system, I accepted the wise advice of setting up a comprehensive filing system. I got a labeller, a box of manila letter sized folders, a few filing cabinets, and set up an alphabetical filing system. I have files for projects, regular meetings, etc.

I like using the "agenda" note cards as meeting planners. I write my agenda on the front, and notes on the back side. If I need to take a lot of notes, I use a notepad. After I pull off the necessary "to do" items, "waiting for's", etc. I simply toss the cards into the appropriate file folder. They make great reference cards later.