Good practices for managing paper documents with JD?


I am implementing JD for all my electronic assets, including scans of paper documents.

Have any of you tried to organise physical paper as part of an existing JD system ?
How do you do it ? What have you tried that does not work?
What kind of physical stuff (paper or cardboard sheets, post-it notes…) do you use to identify and separate topics (AC/AC.ID)?

One thing I do: I always create a corresponding folder in the JD structure, to be sure that my first two folder levels are enough to document the whole index.

Hey there! Welcome.

I haven’t organised paper but I did used to organise physical laptops using the system. I even remember it was category 32 and this was … hmm 7 years ago?

I just wrote the number (e.g. 32.18) on a Post-It and stuck it on the laptop. That number corresponded to a note in my system which had all the details of the thing, whose it was, what I was doing with it, etc.

Yannick, I have a paper filing system that works really well for me which I implemented before I found JD.

If I had known about JD I probably would have tried to integrate the paper files, but it’s not worth it at this point to change over. However, I’m finding my paper system plays nicely with JD.

I numbered 100 file folders 1-100, because I don’t anticipate needing more than 100 folders.

When I file a piece of paper, I enter it into a spreadsheet with three columns: the file folder number, the topic or general description of the paper, and then a cell for keywords for when I can’t remember what the heck I called the thing (e.g. “Were those backup codes, or authentication codes?”) What I like about this is, like the JD system, I can have a rich description of what’s in the folder.

The spreadsheet shows me which paper folders are still open. Then I write down the folder number on the piece of paper and fill in the spreadsheet entry.

Then later I just run a search for whatever keyword pops in my mind to find the paper. I also keep a paper printout of this index in the file cabinet.

I can also glance at the index and know exactly what files I can toss. Say for example I’m looking at the index and notice we have a membership contract for a gym we no longer use, and it’s in folder #05. So I toss the gym contract, and type OPEN in the topic cell for folder #05 in the index. This is very helpful for keeping the system under control.

Re coordinating with JD, since I’m keeping the paper file index on a spreadsheet, I can just type in the JD reference along with the keywords so any relevant digital file will show up. I can also write the JD number directly on the paper.

Conversely, if I’m in the JD index/note system, I just make a note of the relevant paper file’s folder number in the JD note.

I will say because my numbering system for my paper folders has no decimals, that this is helpful in identifying whether I’m going after a piece of paper or a digital file.

Edited to add: The spreadsheet I use for the paper file index is of course in the JD system! Thanks to the JD system I was able to replace the lengthy filepath in my footer with a JD number. Pretty slick!


One of the reasons I invented this thing in the first place. Isn’t it satisfying to just use a number?!

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OMG yes. I came from workplaces with very structured file conventions and finally I have something I can use at home that is just as practical. Love it!