My Filing System

Filing is something I learned about through John Maxwell and Pastor Larry Bettencourt. It’s helped them and it  has helped me tremendously. Before I tell you how I file, let me share with you what and why I file!


What I file – I file stories, quotes, notes, and nuggets by topic. I also  have a separate filing system for memories… I’ll share that at the end.

Why I File… for the Future – Let’s just say in 10 years I get asked to speak on leadership. Specifically on how to lead a team. Because I’ve been filing since I was 18, I’ll be able to go into my teamwork file and put out all kind of nuggets, quotes, and stories about teamwork. I’ll have done 10+ years of research on the topic and have all the data in one folder.

Filing Makes Me Better than I really Am – Imagine the best of 10 years of material in one lesson. People will think you’re a genius! When in reality, it’s the result of 10+ years of the small discipline of filing daily!

How I File

Let me just say first that you  need to find a system that works for you. John Maxwell laid out his filing system here. Pastor Larry’s is different than both of ours, and a lot of our techniques are similar. Here is my system:


I – Something I want to implement in my life

NC -A quote I want on a note card and to file away.

BNC – Something I want to teach some day (Usually multiple points in a chapter – i.e. 10 characteristics of a potential leader)

S – Story


Books – If I find something on a page on Teamwork, I’ll write teamwork with a circle on it. Then one of the symbols indicating what kind of material it is, a lesson, quote, story, or something to implement. Then in the book sleeve I’ll write something like this: Teamwork – pg. 23, NC. That means there is a quote I want to put in a file or on a notecard on teamwork on  page 23. I do this for any topic I come across throughout the book. So when I’m done reading a book I can go to the sleeve and look at my highlights and do the necessary filing (Make copies of the pages, type up the quotes, etc.)

Audio – I’ll usually take notes and do the same thing with my notes… If a podcast I’ll try to write the podcast and how many minutes in the topic is so I can go back and listen to it.

Stories – This one took me a while to figure out! I have one folder now for stories – on the top of the stories I’ll grade the story on a 1-10 scale. If it’s a 10, it’s a story that regardless of how bad my sermon is, it’ll make it amazing. You can usually use stories for any topic you speak on, so that’s why I keep them in one folder.

Pretty much everything else I do, I do in journals – that’s an entirely different post.

Do you have a filing system? I’d love to hear what you do that’s different!

BONUS: A bonus folder I keep is a “Rainy Day File” – it’s my favorite folder. I got this idea from Pastor Larry. I keep a file of all the cards, letters, and other things people give me that inspire me, encourage me, or bring a smile to my face. That way, when I have a bad day or don’t think I’m doing anything with my life, I go to the rainy day folder and get reminded that I am making a difference in people’s lives. Enjoy!


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