Ideas wanted - converting paper filing system to DT3

Like many, I’m stuck at home and tackling long-neglected projects. Could use some ideas for this one. I think it may resemble a small research project but because of the subject matter I need to be rather circumspect in describing my situation.

I am in the process of transferring to DT3 a paper filing system that accounts for about 45-50 items.

There are about 8 source documents that provide information on each of the main items. A source document may refer to 1 or more of the main items, and more than one source may refer to the same main item.

Many but not all of the main items have other applicable documents in a 1-1 ratio.

In the paper system, I have a numbered file folder for each main item, and lettered file folders for the source documents. As an index, I have a spreadsheet with one numbered line for each main item, descriptive data in about 10 columns, and one column referencing the applicable source file.

In some cases the numbered folder only contains a page which references the lettered source folder or folders that apply (e.g., "See A, D, F); in other cases there are additional item-unique documents in addition to the source reference page.

The most straight forward way I can think of is to have a group for each of the main items, corresponding to the numbered file folders, with documents (such as the source documents) where needed replicated into their applicable groups. This may end up being the best way but it doesn’t seem to take full advantage of DT3 (other than using replicants to eliminate the lettered source folders).

I have also experimented with a flat file (everything in one group) using tags, but that seems to get out of control (LOTS of tags needed for quick location) rather quickly.

One complicating factor is that some of the documents are hand written and therefore not accessible to search via OCR.

Thanks in advance for any ideas.

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There are lots of options but I would say this - DT3 is flexible enough that for a database of that size, it is fairly easy to just scan in all the documents first and then figure out what filing system works later. You can for example manually tag the items after you create them and then create a bunch of smart groups to sort them in various ways. And if you don’t like that you can easily convert the smart groups to regular groups and maybe no more tags into the future. Many other possibilities. Just scan and import them and go with it from there.


Good idea…I was more in the mode of figuring out an end state before doing all the scanning (I have done one of the larger items, and doing some tagging with that is what made me wary of the all-in-one group model.)

Every once in a while I find that the flexibility of DT can be a bit overwhelming, but in a good way (eventually).

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As I have often said… Use DEVONthink’s features in a way that is useful, productive, and makes sense to you. If your system in the real file cabinet worked for you, there’s no reason you can’t duplicate it in DEVONthink. You just have to decide if it was useful enough or if you want to try something different.

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