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Exceptions to the rules

Where it makes sense to do so, go ahead and break the rules. I won’t judge you.

Storing things with dates in them

An example from my life: I sent weekly timesheets to a company I worked for. Category 14 Timesheets & expenses is where I kept them.

I thought about creating a new number for each week’s timesheets, but soon ended up with a system like this:

14.01 Timesheets for 1601
14.02 Timesheets for 1602
14.19 Timesheets for 1619

(I use ‘year-week’ as my date format for this sort of thing, so 1601 was the 1st week of 2016. Use whatever works for you.)

If I had created a new number each week, I’d need to track it. That’s an overhead I didn’t need – the system is meant to make my life easier.

More importantly, 1619 is a better way to represent ‘the 19th week of 2016’ than 14.19. In this case, my numbers were getting in the way.

Folders inside Johnny.Decimal folders

I told you not to do this. I am not to be trusted.

Here’s how my timesheets folder looks:

Finder window showing folders within the 14 Timesheets & Expenses folder

I did this because it makes more sense this way.

My timesheets are still in one place. I haven’t broken the Johnny.Decimal system because everything is still very organised.

Notice that things still sort according to time of creation. That’s why we use 1601 and not 0116

Emailing my weekly timesheet

When I email my weekly timesheet to the boss, I use the following subject line:

Subject: Timesheets and expenses [14.01.1619]

I’m extending the ‘use Johnny.Decimal numbers in your email subject’ concept by putting the full number, including the yyww bit, in the subject. Our number has grown, but that’s okay because it’s still very structured.

This allows me—or the boss—to find any timesheet instantly. Search in Outlook for [14.01.1619] and the only thing that appears is my timesheet for this specific week.

This is incredibly useful when I have to remind him to approve it so that I can get paid. (He gets far too much email and, unfortunately, I’m the only one that sends it to him already categorised.)

Archiving files

I need to keep old copies of files. Say it’s a spreadsheet that I’m updating, but I want to keep the previous version in case I mess it up.

This is also an exception to the ‘you can’t create a folder inside a Johnny.Decimal folder’ rule. In this case, feel free to create a folder called archive and move things in to it.

Blog posts

The following blog posts expand on this idea.

17th January 2021
Walking through the setup of a new home project.