06 July 2017

How to use file folders to organize your documents

I felt stressed. There were assorted documents stashed inside my bag. On my table lie some loose papers I haven't filed: they were sitting on top of notebooks in various stages of disarray. The file folders on the right side of my desk are arranged neatly, but I know at the back end are some documents that I haven't properly filed. And what was my filing system again?

Entropy in Physics is a measure of the state of disorder of a system. According to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, the state of disorder of an isolated system can only increase. Hence, the mess.

So I decided to overhaul my folder filing system. I sorted the papers into different folders. Each folder has a two or three level classification system. In some folders, I use the institutional categories. The is usually an institution, such as Ateneo (for Ateneo de Manila University) and MO (Manila Observatory). The succeeding keywords are just modifiers, e.g. "MO history CD" or "Ateneo faculty appointment." The folders are then arranged alphabetically. In other papers, I use topical categories, e.g. "Person," "Medical," and "Magazine." For example, "Person: Sugon, Paul," "Medical: HealthDev," and "Magazine: Space Weather Quarterly."

I have thrown about 500 papers of trash, which I cut into thin strips by ripping a handful of papers by hand--about four to five strips per paper. The folders I keep. I can always relabel them using a self-adhesive continuous label paper--just a simple paper sticker of size 24 mm x 90 mm, with 10 pieces per fold. I did not anymore use my electronic labelers, because printing a plastic label is costly, though the labels last long and won't fade with time. But my priorities are organization efficiency and cheap price, not beauty and elegance. So I stick with paper stickers.

It took me 6 hours to reclassify and file my documents. Hopefully, I should now be able to find any document in less than one minute.

My next job is to overhaul my drawers.

18 January 2017

How to get things done with Notes in iPad

My iPad (9th Edition)
Apple's iPad have three apps for getting things done: Calendar, Reminders, and Notes. I tried all three, but Notes has been my app of choice for several weeks now. Here are some ways on how to get things done with the Notes App:
  1. Write a title for your note. I know this sounds silly, but the first 33 characters on your first paragraph serves as the title of your note. So better limit your first sentence or phrase into 30 characters and make it the title of your note. Usually, the title that I type is the date in yyyy-mm-dd notation followed by a three-letter code for the day of the week, e.g. "2017-01-18 Tue". If I am making some notes for a project, I write the title of the project as the title of the note.
  2. Write your body text. The first few words of your second paragraph will serve as text snippet. There's an Aa icon on the bottom left corner. Click this icon and you can type the text. If you use a physical keyboard, the keyboard panel in the iPad screen will be gone.
  3. Make a checklist. Click on the checklist icon on the lower left corner and you can type things that you need to do. After you have done them, you can mark the circles as check by pressing on them like a button; the circles will become filled with orange color and marked check. 
  4. Take a picture. There's a camera icon at the bottom right. Click it and you can take a photo which you can embed in your note. The picture will serve as your image snippet. You can take a photo or video. You may also grab a photo from your library.
  5. Write some scribbles. There's a scribble icon on the lower right hand corner. This is ideal for drawing cartoons with your bare fingers. You can also use this tool to make quick sketches which you may wish to develop later.
  6. Make a new note. There's a square with a pencil icon at the upper right hand corner. Click on this to make a new note. In my case, I copy the undone tasks in the previous day and transfer them to the new day note. To copy, just press on the right side of the text, click 'select', and drag the bounds of the highlighted area. Press 'cut', then go to the new note, press the location where you wish to paste, then click paste. This is the most enjoyable part for me in getting things done. It feels like I am using a real paper notebook, but the transferring of tasks to a new day is so much easier: I don't have to copy word for word. In this way, all the notes for the previous day are only the tasks that I have accomplished, which gives me an idea on my productivity for each day.
  7. Share your note. There's box with an upward pointing arrow icon at the upper right hand corner. You can share this note as a message, or mail, or Twitter, and more.
  8. Trash your note. There's a trash bin icon on the upper right hand corner. Maybe you don't need to trash. You can choose to highlight the whole text after pressing somewhere, and click Select All option. Click Cut and write a new note.
  9. Add people. The icon is a silhouette of a head with a plus sign enclosed by a circle on the upper right hand corner. You can use this to add people who can see your note. They can also edit what you have done. 
  10. Search. This is a very handy feature. But it is not immediately apparent after you typed your note. You need to drag the left column a bit by sliding your finger downwards. This column contains the note titles and snippets. The gray box area will show up at the top below the Notes header and Edit. Type something on this gray box to find the notes which contains the text you're looking for.


The author is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for him to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.