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« "Making It All Work" | Main | The Procrastination Buster Improved »

Noguchi System Update

A reader has asked whether I am still using the Noguchi filing system. The answer is “Yes”, but only for those documents which don’t fit easily into a conventional filing system. For these I find it a godsend.

Just to illustrate the difference, here are the most recently used file titles in my conventional system (for how I organize that, see File for Success):

  • Personal Documents (where I keep my passport, educational certificates, etc)
  • Pensions (a hot subject at the moment as I am within four months of my 65th birthday!)
  • Wines (always a popular subject!)
  • Receipt Vouchers - Volume II (business vouchers)
  • Cars (all the documents, repair vouchers etc, for our two cars) 

I wouldn’t dare trust the contents of these files to the Noguchi system - I need them not only to be complete but to be in the right order within the file.

After using the Noguchi system for a bit over a month I have 48 envelopes. It never takes me more than a few seconds to find a document. Here are the most recently used:

  • Latest copy of a charity magazine
  • A letter from one of my pension providers (needs careful reading and consideration before being filed permanently)
  • A proposal from a financial adviser
  • Latest parish newsletter
  • Personal credit card vouchers for current month
  • New “Terms and Conditions” for my bank

Basically these are all the type of things which used to lie around because I couldn’t decide which file they should go in, or because I needed to read them in detail before filing them. Now the answer is easy: “Put them in Noguchi”. Result: they don’t lie around any more and can be easily found.

Further articles on Filing 

Reader Comments (2)

It sounds a little silly, but I use the Noguchi method for my bookshelf (most recently read books are leftmost, and books I've stopped reading slowly move to the right) and my clothes closet (most recently worn shirts get hung on the far left so those clothes on the far right are those I've stopped wearing, based on the season or disinterest).

I like little behavioral systems like this that remove in the moment decisions and replace them with visual reminders that I can react to more quickly, if that makes sense.
July 16, 2008 at 18:44 | Unregistered CommenterMike Brown
Hi, Mike

Funnily enough I've just gone back to arranging my bookshelves by category rather than putting them back on the left in the way you described. I liked the ease of putting books back on the left, but I didn't like the way it split up sets of more than one volume or widely separated closely related books.

I used my "halving" method to arrange the bookshelves (See my book "Get Everything Done" for details of how that works). Now I find it much easier to find closely related books if - as frequently happens - I want to be referring to one or more books while reading another.

There are definite pluses and minuses to both systems. All we need is someone to invent a system which combines the best of both!
July 18, 2008 at 11:19 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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