Today I was viewing my favorite blogs and I wrote the following as a comment on Searching4Arcadia: He was talking about using 3×5 cards as a capture tool and how to organize and store them. This got me writing down How I do my system. I wanted to share this with my readers as well. 

So Here is what I wrote in that comment: ( a few things added as I could not do linking in the comments)

Greeting – Great article By the way – as usual good information. I too use 3×5 quite a bit in my daily activities. I have the leather version of the shirt pocket briefcase from Levengers but I always have on hand is the International Shirt Pocket Briefcase.

I like this version better in some instances because it has a pocket to fit my daily use fountain pen inside and protect it and a place for my drivers license and money (When I have any).

I also bought the Levenger Index Cards – I find them better quality then he dime store variety But they work just as well also.

I too had a hard time organizing them. I use a old wooden cigar box for my "Current" cards and have a longer storage box from Office Depot/Max that I use for Long Term Storage.

When I am placing my cards away I will mark the card with a Topic and Number. I then store them alphabetically in the trays by the Topic & Number. Any really important facts or info I know I might need to remember  I write it down on the index card index cards :-) that I have stored in the front of the tray – Thus I can quickly (Well sorta) find a past topic. Plus this gives me a way to place the card back into it correct spot when the time comes. I will usually do this once every week or so as not to get too many cards out of place but they are fairly easy to put back into order no matter what.

My local Big Lots store has the plastic dividers I use in the boxes for about $1.50 I like these better then the ones from Office Depot as the are all the same color and the letter is easier to read. Actually I bought sever sets – I put my own TAGS or labels on them (I have one for each of my clients or major projects that I am working on) That way when I mark the card I can put it in that Tagged section and make it the next number. For cards that don't have a "Divider" I put them into the alphabet dividers by letter. So notes I took about a particular pipe tobacco would be under P and the number would be then next number in the P section ex. P112. And If I thought this was something important as mentioned above I would put:

Pipe Tobacco (Haddo's Delight)   – P112

This is just an example inde Taken from some objects I have in sight when I was writing this topic. Ok I was enjoying my pipe at the time.

On the index card index. I use one card for each letter in index. This helps keep my index cards in order Right now I have Several cards for each letter. Plus if I happen to have multiple topics on a card I can still find this information as well. These are easier to go thru then going though each and every card all the time. But I have to admit there are times like you mentioned that I just flip and scan though all the cards just to get some inspiration.

Depending on what I am writing and/or note taking – I will either use the index cards or my notebook. The notebook for me is more for info that I want to store long term (I use my notebook more as a common book) and want to have easy access to as when I leave to go to a job or client I have that with me in my backpack / work kit. And I alway in the front of my notebook carry a few extra index cards. That way if the info in not as important I write it on the cards. I also keep a couple with my Name and Email/phone number printed on to give notes to a client. I find this quite effective as it keeps my info with them.

One additional note not in the comment I posted was that I have a nice Card Holder that I bought from Ikea several years back that keeps my current projects close at hand.

Thanks A11en for sparking the writing bug today.



TAGS: Index Card Storage Index+Card Notetaking GTD how to