August 31, 2007

Something Else New – 31 Folders

Posted in ADHD, Goal Setting, Organization, Posts by Renee, Tools at 6:21 am by bloggingawayadhd

OK, so I admit I can’t wrap my head around the whole GTD thing (well, I haven’t even tried to) and I’ve heard of the 43 folders system before and thought “wouldn’t that be nice” but never tried it. I didn’t want to complicate things.

However, after some very-nearly-almost late bills and knowing I have 2 more projects being added to my always-growing list of work projects, I figured I better put a system in place now. I mentioned my “customized planner” before, and haven’t yet finalized how it looks and works, so I haven’t uploaded the excel file yet (though I have been using it for more than a week at a time, which is an improvement!). I’ve also mentioned my Bible reading plan and haven’t yet been able to start on that.

One of my primary goals with this folder system is to focus on a small amount of projects every day (like 2) and have defined work tasks each day, instead of being overwhelmed to the point of being frozen by the large stack of papers from 8 different concurrent projects each day.

You may be wondering why I, a self-professed computer geek, am not using a PDA or Google Calendar to manage this. Here’s the answer: they haven’t worked for me so far. I forget to put a task into the software to be reminded about it, or I get all gung-ho and put everything in all at once, then forget to take it with me or check my email by a certain time each day to see the email reminder or whatever. For whatever reason, software doesn’t help me much.

So, here’s my plan for how I’m going to start with the 31 folders. Hopefully, I can keep this up an grow the system more later.

1) Get 31 folders, 1 for each day of the month (After I decided to do this system, I found a pack of unused folders in my business parter’s old file cabinet with folders pre-labeled 1 through 31! neat!) There are supposed to be 43, but I’m starting out small here.

2) When a bill comes in the mail, immediately drop it into the folder numbered a few days before it has to be mailed.

3) Make index cards for the following and put them in the corresponding folders

  • When an invoice should be created to bill a client for work I’ve done (approx. every 2 weeks)
  • When a bill is regularly due
  • When a gift or other item needs to be bought or mailed

The cool thing about that is if a bill is due on the same day each month, I can leave it in the folder and be automatically reminded on the day the next month.

4) Put tasks on slips of paper (including Bible reading chapters) and put them in the folder. If a certain task doesn’t get done, it gets dumped into the next day’s folder and the current day’s folder gets moved to the next month stack.

Putting each task on it’s own piece of scrap paper will help with a problem I have of making long lists, then finishing most of the list, then letting the remaining 1 or 2 items on the list go undone when the list gets buried in a pile of stuff. Now, if one item doesn’t get done, I just drop it in the next folder.

This should also help by getting papers I don’t want to forget, but don’t need for a few days, off of my desk – hopefully avoiding creating piles of things and combating the “out of sight, out of mind” problem. Now, the thing I need should pop into view when I need it and not all the time! (won’t that be a nice change!)

Anyway, I’ll update if I do more with it, but that’s what I’m starting with for now. Time to put my Mountain Stream sounds on and get back to work!



  1. bloggingawayadhd said,

    Oh yeah, I can also use it to drop in flyers for sales at my favorite stores that I always seem to miss!

    (Though shopping reminders may not help my budget!)

    P.S. I just started putting this all together and I can already tell it’s going to help because it gives me a tangible thing to hold in my hand for each thing that needs to get done each day, and I can see just by opening a folder, an estimate of how much stuff needs to be done that day.

    And, I don’t have to freak out thinking I’m going to miss a bill because it got lost in some stack of paper! Yay!

  2. bloggingawayadhd said,

    One day in and I aready found another use for this – avoiding hyperfocusing. Today I started getting into buying a friend a birthday present. I spend about 20 mins online comparing blenders, smoothie books, and finding out how to properly dice mangoes before I realized I was wasting time… her birthday isn’t for another month and I was already about to print out mango-dicing instructions so she could make her favorite beach-drink, the mango smoothie.

    So, I wrote down the URL I was looking at on a little slip of paper, and put it in a folder early enough before her birthday that I can order the blender and book on Amazon and go buy some mangos.

    Now I don’t have to hyperfocus now because I’m worried about forgetting again until the last minute (I’ll have a reminder in a couple weeks), and I can just drop it and move on to more pressing things like work!

  3. Jennifer Greene said,

    You can also buy an accordian file with 31 numbered pockets, which is easier to keep track of than individual folders. I have used this bring-forward system successfully at work, but at home I tend to forget to check it.

  4. bloggingawayadhd said,

    Yep, I have 2 accordion files (well, really just big expandable pockets), “This Month” and “Next Month” and I take the folder out of the first one and put it into the second one after each day. I guess then on the 1st of the next month, they’ll all get put back into “This Month” accordion file.

    Thanks for the comment!

  5. […] It’s a good feeling to get just a little more organized, enough that it makes a small but noticeable difference. I recommend the 31-day folder method! […]

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