Creative file cabinet

    A file cabinet is an old tool for generating new ideas.


    Among the tools for working with information and developing creative thinking, one of the most suitable for me turned out to be a very archaic thing. I have come across the most universal and clear description of this instrument with the guru of Russian time management, comrade Gleb Arkhangelsky, but the idea itself flashes in the noosphere here and there, probably beginning from writers from the 18th century. It is called (at Arkhangelsk) a creative file cabinet.

    The idea, in itself, is simple and intuitive. The bottom line: to make a sort of feeding trough for the subconscious, its “swinging” to develop creative ideas on the desired topic, and at the same time to implement one of the basic principles of GTD, according to which everything should be quickly fixed somewhere on an external medium and kicked out of my head. Mechanism: you write down successful ideas on separate cards and subsequently periodically meditate them sorted out. All.

    Now, in more detail.

    For starters - what is considered an “idea"?
    And it depends on the type of your activity. For a scientist, there are facts about which he feels with his spinal cord that “it’s not a bccz,” but cannot prove yet. For a journalist and a copywriter - separate successful phrases, headlines, topics. For the writer - sketches, sketches, etc.

    A very useful thing - a file cabinet - for a startup, a marketer, and generally a person who needs to give birth to a new vision, a new approach to the problem. This should write on cards in general everything that, according to instinct, may be relevant to the task at hand, and indeed everything that you like. The tool uses associative thinking, so the beautiful move described in the book on military intelligence (and the idea of ​​which was outlined on the card) can suddenly melt into a solution to an old problem, for example, with staff.

    The main thing here - the idea should be one. It is not necessary to try to attach it to anything, it is a separate semantic quantum, be it a two-word pun or a synchrophasotron operation scheme.


    Here we are dealing with the GTD rules, which say that any garbage that interests you should be fixed, leaving its description (or a reminder of this garbage) in a special drive, and raking this drive with a certain regularity.

    It is important to find a drive that will be convenient for you to work with. Not so long ago, the recorder firmly held the palm of the championship, but today it is easier for many to write on the tablet in Evernote.

    If you start doing this, it turns out that quite a lot of interesting thoughts come to you during the day. Much more than you thought, and most importantly - they always come unexpectedly and at the wrong time (this is where the convenience of the drive begins to play a role). And in the evening, some of these ideas immediately "go into action", and some have nowhere to go, but it is a pity to throw out. So they need to be placed in a file cabinet.

    The record should be short, but informative and clear, so that you do not have to try to understand what it is about. An abstract with adequate abbreviations and, possibly, drawings - that’s it. In addition, the record should be well readable, visible.


    The card file is unsystematic, i.e. cards should not be kept in order. On the contrary, they should be chaos, confusion, a crowd of everything at once. And in one place. Actually, this is the whole trick.
    My very first file cabinet was kept, as it should, on the cardboard boxes that I kept in an old shoe box. When I shook her, they rumbled fun inside.

    Now - how to work with this.

    The file cabinet is supposed to be treated regularly and meditatively.

    What to look for?
    A) Answers to your questions.
    B) Structures.

    I will explain.
    The first one. The meaning of such a tool is precisely in the search for non-trivial solutions for current tasks. Just do not have to wait for the answers to come and be obvious. Perhaps you yourself will not understand that the solution to the problem that is relevant to you was formed due to the work with the card file (by association with something), and only reflect on it later.

    The second one. Semantic “quarks” in the file cabinet will constantly try to connect with each other. The process is unhurried, and at the exit you will receive certain concepts, complex (relative to your source) semantic structures. This may be the structure of articles, ideas of start-ups, ideas of "how can we rebuild a company" or just some formed ideas about certain life phenomena. (“Look, the actions of the Chinese government in relation to India repeat the principle of the synchrophasotron”).

    We are reaping the benefits.

    When such a structure took shape, i.e. several cards for you are tightly “linked” together in a meaningful way, the resulting macro idea needs to be removed from the file cabinet (physically remove these cards from there) and, if possible, be put into operation. (Most likely, the idea will not be abstract, but related to solving problems of concern to you, see point A).

    The structure is very important. For example, I read about the use of such a card index by Hollywood screenwriters. The modern scenario is also a well-known structure, and quite tough. It’s rather difficult to “string” events onto the required frame, holding both them and him, in the head. Cards help out: when you carry them along the same frame that is visualized on the board, you see that these ten pieces, for example, all belong to the same stage in the development of the plot, and that means half must be thrown out; but the other stages sag. (Prior to this, a large number of cards created the impression that the script was solid.)

    When it comes to the formation of any other semantic structure, the same principles work: by placing its elements in the correct order, you see whether it is complete or “lame”.

    Many cards never come in handy. If the card is tired, become familiar, blurred the eye, the thought contained on it has become a commonplace for you and has ceased to be perceived as something independent and original - down with such a card. In the file cabinet you need to regularly audit.

    Paper File vs. electronic

    is still a moot point.
    On the one hand, storing cardboard cards in a shoe box is already somehow not comme il faut. On the other hand, I personally note the lesser effectiveness of all attempts to transfer a file cabinet to the electronic environment compared to its paper existence.

    The reason, in general, is understandable - paper cards can be touched, sorted, physically folding combinations of them with your hands. Obviously, this motility “swings” the subconscious mind more powerful than moving virtual cards with the mouse.

    Half measures - stickers or pieces of paper on a magnetic / cork board. It looks more adequate than self-made cardboards, but still less “material” and comfortable. But with such a card index some teamwork is possible.

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