Speaking of hot places, I work at an industrial communication systems startup (hardware + software) in our APAC office in Taipei, Taiwan. Its hot here during the summer: in low to mid 90s °F (mid 30s °C) daily for at least 3 months, or more, unless there is a typhoon of course. Wearing shorts is an absolute necessity for me and a few of my colleagues.
In Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935), W.C. Fields has a similar filing method. When asked to find a document, he opens a huge roll-top desk filled with a chaos of papers, peeks into the middle of a couple of piles, and produces the required document. He describes his profession as "memory expert".
I think the key to making this method work is to have a personal relationship with each document: it's not just a piece of paper, it's an old friend.
@Betajet...have you read any of the stories about Bob Pease's office at National Semi? I couldn't find exactly the story I was after, but got this over on EDN:
"Another time, I was having a discussion with Bob and we went back to his office as he had a document or article to show me. He looked at the wall of paper, started riffling through maybe 1" of the stack about 3' up from the wall, pulled out one sheet and continued the conversation. I never bothered him about his filing method."
The one I was looking for went further. He proceeded as above to find an artile to show someone, then put it back on a DIFFERENT pile. A week later the guy went back and asked for the same article. Bob instantly retrieved it from the new pile.
Martin...your title brought to mind a funny story from many years ago. When I ran my own company in Zimbabwe, I wore shorts in the summer (well it is hot!). My business was terminal systems in Travel Agents. We used PTT leased lines and modems, and when they went wrong I assisted the network provider (SITA - the airlines network) to test the lines. This consisted of putting a short circuit on each pair in turn and measuring them at the other end. I had just finished this, and said to the guy at the other end "OK, I'll take my shorts off now" just as the Manageress walked in. She looked horrified. "Whatever are you doing??" she asked. It took some explaining .... :-)