You can use your numbers in all sorts of ways. Here's how I do it, and you'll come up with your own ideas. Remember, nothing is wrong as long as it helps you be more organised. Tweet @johnnydecimal with your ideas and I'll keep this page up to date.

Read it out loud

You'll be amazed at how useful this is. How often do you need to tell someone where a file is? That person might be sitting next to you, on the other end of a conference call, or in a Slack channel. Before, you had to describe a file path. Now, you just tell them the number: “eighteen oh-four”, or “sixty-one dot twelve”. So easy.

As part of the filename

I do this sometimes, but not all the time.

When saving files, put the Johnny.Decimal number at the beginning, e.g. 31.11 Weekly schedule extract 2016-05-28.xls.

This is helpful if you're emailing files: you send the Johnny.Decimal number with the document. It allows you to glance at the title of an open document and immediately see what it relates to.

In meeting invitations

At work, I put the number in [square brackets] at the end of my meeting invitations. For example, Cisco weekly account meeting [62.11]. I put it in square brackets at the end so that it's still readable for people who don't understand or care what my numbers mean.

When I distribute the meeting minutes I right-click the invitation and ‘Send email to all attendees’, which uses the title of the meeting as the subject of the email. Now, my attendees and I can easily find the meeting minutes by searching our email for [62.11].

In the subject line of an email

I talked about this on the ‘fix your email’ page, so I won't repeat myself. You should read that if you haven't already.

Display it on printed copies

Rather than including the complete (and always ugly) file path on printed documentation, just add the Johnny.Decimal number. Please don't ever type c:\Documents and Settings\Geoff\MyDocu~1\Files\Reports\2016\Financial\Word docs\Report.doc in the footer of a Word document ever again. Please for the love of all that is good in the world, stop that.

Stick it to things

If your work involves keeping track of many similar items—say you build laptops for your users—write the number on a sticky note and attach it to the item.

Open without clicking

Open files or folders instantly using your favourite application launcher (mine is Alfred) or your operating system's built-in search functionality.

In a project schedule

If this bit doesn't make sense to you, just ignore it.

I include the Johnny.Decimal number in square brackets in my project schedule.

My current project has the following structure:

70-79 Hardware
   71 Physical delivery
   72 Rack & stack
   73 Cabling & patching
   ...

This structure allows me to:

  • Filter all Hardware activities across all sites by using the filter [7
  • Filter all Rack & stack activies across all sites by using the filter [72.
  • Show only the Rack EMC hardware tasks across all sites by using the filter [72.11]

And my schedule looks like this, with headers underlined:

Site audit: Site A
  Conduct site safety audit       [54.12]
...
Hardware delivery: Site A
  Take delivery of EMC hardware   [71.11]
  Take delivery of Cisco hardware [71.12]
Hardware delivery: Site B
  Take delivery of EMC hardware   [71.11]
  Take delivery of Cisco hardware [71.12]  
Site preparation: Site A
  Rack EMC hardware               [72.11]
  Patch & power EMC hardware      [73.11]
  Rack Cisco hardware             [72.12]
  Patch & power Cisco hardware    [73.12]
Site preparation: Site B
  Rack EMC hardware               [72.11]
  Patch & power EMC hardware      [73.11]
  Rack Cisco hardware             [72.12]
  Patch & power Cisco hardware    [73.12]