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Setting Up Categories for a Filing System with 43 Folders

written by: Laura Jean Karr•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 6/30/2010

Learn more about the 43 Folders system and how it can help you create organized categories when filing papers away.

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    Merlin Mann and the 43 Folders System

    The 43 Folders system is the brainchild of writer and organizational junkie, Merlin Mann. The idea came from his belief that there had to be a better way for personal organization while coming down from the integration of too much technology. Mann's not alone in his verve for downgrading among the added extras of today's gadget happy atmosphere. With the growing number of 43 Folders users climbing in ranks, it appears that Mann's invention is one who's time has surely come.

    One of the great things about using the 43 Folders system is through the ability to break filed items down into categories. Each day is an item that can then be later placed by category at the end of the month. Here we are going to take a closer look at the 43 Folder system and how it can be used to set up categories for a filling system.

    It is important to note that the 43 Folders system is part of the GTD(Getting Things Done) movement and many people have taken the GTD ideal online with various task oriented software. One example of this software can be seen in OnePlace Review.

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    Using 43 Folders as Catagories

    When getting started with the 43 Folders system, it is best to get used to the idea of manually dealing with paperwork. That's right – normal everyday paperwork. With this system, there is no online calender to update, no mobile device to keep dealing with and no in-house note system to keep going. All you need to deal with is hand held paper, work related paper items and file folders.

    To begin you will need to have 43 file folders. The 1 through 31 folders should be labeled just with their number. For example, when you look down at the file folders you should see "1, 2, 3, 4" and so on up to the number 31. The reason for this is because there are 31 days in each month with the exception of September, April, June, November, and February. Now, the extra folders are for the twelve months and should be labeled with each month's name.

    The idea is to keep track of daily tasks, paper communications and notes by filing them in the folder marked with the day of the month that you are on. Notes and agendas can be filed away on the day that they need to be taken care of on, so when you start that day and pull that folder you will be ready for that day. The basic idea is to store up coming events by daily and monthly activities that can create categories for a filing system.

    Each day's file folder is a category, as each month's file folder is a grouped category. The day starts with action items that are pulled from the day's file folder and then dealt with, while incoming items that will need action can be filed away in a file folder either marked as a day category or a month category.

    The reasoning behind these daily and monthly categories for a filing system is to be proactive in dealing with action items. There are many times in which paperwork is filed away, lost in different file folders and not taken care of at all. With the 43 Folders system, each action item gets the attention it deserves on days that the paper work and other work related items need to be taken care of.

    For more information on the 43 Folders system, visit the main web site at: