In his video on going paperless, Brooks Duncan says it doesn’t really matter what you name a file, and he gives an example where he names a pdf that he’s just imported into Evernote. He puts the date of the pdf, or the date it was created, at the front then adds a descriptive title.

The organizing software that comes with my Fujitsu ScanSnap also automatically assigns the date and time as the default name for all scanned docs.

This can be useful, but there’s a problem when I import the pdf into my iPad2: there are only 2 ways to search for pdfs in iBooks and that is by author or title.  Also, you can’t assign the pdfs to categories (it is possible using some other pdf-reading/organizing software, e.g. pdf-notes allows you to do this).

Update: Clarification – I don’t (yet) have Evernote premium and so cannot view the contents of Evernote notes when I’m offline, which is most of the time. What I’m describing here is viewing pdfs on my iPad2 using the iBooks app.

I have a bunch of pdfs that are related to the various places I work at. I don’t always put them into pdf-notes because, altho the categories are useful to help locate the files I need in particular workplaces, I can’t use it at work because I installed the app via my home computer. If I try and upload a pdf into pdf-notes at work, it tells me the pdfs I list will REPLACE the pdfs already uploaded into pdf-notes.

Also, I don’t want to waste time TYPING the file name into a SEARCH box. I just want to flick down thru the list of files listed by title and find all the pdfs I need for a particular context/location all together. This is my work-around for having no folders to organize my pdfs on my iPad.

So I name my pdf files according to location (“context”, to use the GTD jargon): all files required for or related to a particular workplace get the name of that workplace as a prefix to the file name. Pdfs unrelated to workplaces I assign my name as the prefix. Like this:

  • WorkA_calendar
  • WorkA_address_list
  • WorkB_calendar
  • WorkB_address_list
  • WorkB_Phone_numbers
  • etc.

I don’t need the date in the name.

So far, this convention is working well.

The next thing I want to organize is the workflow:

  • did I already upload this file to my iPad?
  • which files need to be uploaded to iPad?
  • Where should I store files that are waiting to be uploaded to iPad?
  • If I use a temporary holding folder like “To iPad”, what happens to the files in iTunes when I delete them from the temporary holding folder?
  • I lost track of some files (forgot where I was in the workflow) because I dragged them out of their original folders and put them in the “To iPad” folder, then
    • forgot where they’d originally come from, or
    • thought I’d already copied them into iTunes, then
    • deleted them from the “To iPad” folder, only to discover that
    • I hadn’t yet uploaded them to the iPad, and now
    • iTunes on my computer couldn’t locate them (because I’d just deleted them), but
    • “not to worry, there’ll still be a copy in the original folder… won’t there?”
    • No there won’t, because I dragged them to the iPad folder, not copied them.

Coming soon: workflows are fun!