File this under M … for Miscellaneous

File this under M … for Miscellaneous

I’m the model sucker for any planner app, binder or technique. What I’ve ended up with is some bastardized amalgamation of all the systems, but it works for me. I’ve only recently realized that bastardly amalgamating systems is genetic.


I’m going through one of many Rolodex files in my childhood home. For those of you unfamiliar with Rolodexes, it’s an old-school paper filing system typically for addresses.

Rolodex is actually a portmanteau for rolling index, because the specially-notched cards snapped into a rotating spindle with alphabetized dividers (unless you fiddled with the divider tabs and put I before E, you rebel).

For those of you unfamiliar with portmanteaus, come geek out with me over etymology sometime.

For those of you unfamiliar with etymology, come hang out and … you know what? Stop distracting me! Where was I? Oh yea, the Rolodex.

I find a card with the combination to the firesafe. Correction, I find cards (plural) with the combination to the firesafe.

It’s under C, presumably for “combination.”

It’s under I, I think because it was a piece of “information.”

It’s under L, obviously for “lock.”

It’s under S, for “safe.”

And then, it’s under M for “miscellaneous.”

M could have its own Rolodex because my Dad filed everything under Miscellaneous. We used to make fun of my Dad about that, but now that I’ve tried sev-er-al ways to organize my files, I understand.

Filing stuff is easy … if you don’t ever plan on referencing the stuff you file. But if that’s the case, I’m not sure why you’re filing anything in the first place. It seems to me that the crucial element of a filing system is to make your life easier when you need to retrieve the information.

I read books and articles and wikipedia how-tos on “the best” filing system. I watch YouTube videos and interviews with professional organizers. I talk to and mirror the systems of others who seem to have their collective shyte together.

Years of reading, watching, talking, stalking and filing has taught me that the best filing system is my filing system. And the best filing system for you is your filing system.

The way you file info needs to align with the way your brain categorizes data. Forcing our paperwork into someone else’s folders may not suffice when it’s time to recall that information (and if you literally filed it in someone else’s folders, it may not be conveniently located near you).

Outside the filing cabinet, I’ve caught myself trying to fit into someone else’s mold (not the fungus … although I am a fun-gal).

Whether it was the way I studied, the way I lead or the way I filed; the most successful, the most natural, the most reliable method was the way that made sense to me.

Whether it’s the way you parent, lead or file; find a system that works for you. And if you’re like Dad and me, that may involve intense cross-categorization. But I’d rather have the information multiple times than not at all.

And with a combination like that, I know I’m safe.