Efficient Filing Systems 101
Keeping physical copies of paperwork organized can be overwhelming. Heaps of files can build up in no time, especially if your business operates using physical copies. (I’m a huge fan of scanning and shredding some documents, as I’ve written about before. You can read tips for scanning here.) But, if you can keep your filing system structured and organized, all of this paperwork can be dealt with using little time and effort. Here are some tips for making your filing system organized and efficient.
Keep Things Simple
Having a cluttered or confusing filing system will only discourage you from using it on a regular basis. Keep things simple and easy to understand, so it doesn't end up a failed project. Assess what important documents you want to keep, and discard any junk mail or useless documentation that you have no use for. Not only will it be easier for you to find what you’re searching for, but you will also have more room to save your truthfully important files.
Label Your Files
Part of creating a file system that works for you is to label your files in a way that you can easily understand. For example, if you’re someone who saves receipts, you might have a folder titled “Receipts." You may want to include sub-folders inside this folder and title the sub-folders based on the year it was received or the category that it belongs to. It’s important to have a filing system that appeals to YOU so it encourages a habit of using it.
Create a Directory
Creating a rough list of the contents of a filing cabinet drawer or group of folders makes it much easier for you to find what you need. This list can either be handwritten or created on a computer and printed out.
Invest in a Filing Cabinet
You need a place where you can keep your files safe and organized. A filing cabinet stores a lot of paperwork in a way that allows it to be accessed efficiently. Every folder is kept upright in the cabinet, so you can go through them and pull documents out of them without removing them from the filing system. This stops you from disturbing your entire filing system if you have to go hunting for a missing document. Filing cabinets also tend to be sturdy and secure, so they’ll keep your important paperwork safe from damage. Some even have locking drawers, in the case that privacy is an issue.
No matter what kind of filing system you put into place, it won’t do any good if things don’t stay organized. As you add new documents to your filing system, make sure they end up in their proper place. Avoid allowing loose papers to pile up and resist the temptation to simply stuff something where it will fit. Yes, it takes a bit of discipline, but with a bit of practice, you can keep your filing system clean and efficient.
If you're looking for some motivation to move towards a more paperless lifestyle, check out 5 Reasons Going Paperless is Good for the Planet - and Your Business.