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  1. #1
    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    Mar 2010

    Default Effective Categorization

    Okay I need some advice from people who are good at this or from people who have trouble with it but have come up with good strategies/approaches.

    It's something I have to do for work a lot… but it shows up in other areas of life sometimes too (e.g. in the kitchen). On a project there are often all of these different files, and I need to organize them in some way (this is not my primary role in my company, but I do have to at least keep track of the stuff on which I’m working). Somehow the task is overwhelming. I try to come up with categories that make sense, but a lot of the problem is that it’s difficult to decide whether a certain document would go into one category or another, because it often seems like it could go into several places, and it’s difficult to form categories that are all the same level of detail, because in some ways they seem to be the same level of detail but then in other ways, they do not seem to be the same level of detail.

    So then eventually what ends up happening is this snarled maze of files (electronic) and a lot of physical folders with really unhelpful names. It would be fine if it were just me accessing the files, but other people need to use them as well.

    This is a skill I would like to develop. What are good ways to go about doing this?
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

  2. #2
    Artisan Conquerer Halla74's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    7w8 sx/so


    Good question!

    I am naturally good at doing this, and I have had ALOT of practice at doing it.

    Here's a few ideas/techniques/things I think might be useful to you:

    (1) Draw a picture of your problem!!! It totally works to help right brain/left brain thoughts work together better...

    (2) Identify a process of problem solving, a methodology if you will, that can be used to assist you in successfully completing a task. The benefit of using a methodology, is that once you know it, you can follow it without having to question a whole lot, you can have a certain degree of "faith" in performing your work that way, due to it being supported at some point by successful implementations of that methodology on prior tasks.

    (3) Once you have a process you need to learn to "divide and conquer." Ultimately you need to have a functional OUTLINE of what the major steps are that must be completed to successfully complete your task. MAKE A LIST, just like when you write a paper in an English class...

    (4) Once you have your LIST, then you must ensure it is properly ORDERED. Some tasks must happen before others, etc.

    (5) Now that you've DIVIDED, it is time to CONQUER. Make a forward pass through your first major task (milestone), as in write down how you think it best to complete that task, go all the way through it at a ("50,000 feet") HIGH LEVEL. Then make a second pass ("25,000 feet") of the work and get into a little more detail than you did on the first pass. Then do it again ("10,000 feet") to make sure you aren't missing things. Finally you are at "tree top level", or the lowest level of useful granularity for you to approach this work.

    FYI - The above is a simplification of "top down analysis" and some basic project management principles...

    I have a longer and more detailed write up of it in my Personals Page:

    Also check out these links for other info:

    Systems Development Life Cycle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Project management - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    JAD Facilitation The Skilled Facilitator: A Comprehensive Resource for Consultants, Facilitators, Managers, Trainers, and Coaches (9780787947231): Roger Schwarz: Books


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  3. #3



    Break it down to its most frequently used category, then create subcategorizing units with in those.

    Finding shit should be like a map, with the most noticeable features first then trickling into detail.

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