Key Concepts to an Organized Filing System
The true test of an organized filing system is how quickly you can find a paper when you need it. Here are four key concepts to consider in establishing – or overhauling – a filing system to make it more efficient.
Separate the Active and Archived Office Files
Active files hold information that you’ll use all the time. Archive files hold documents for reference or record retention. Don’t store them together.
Keep active files close at hand, within easy access.
Store archived files in a different file drawer, cabinet or even a banker’s box. Since you don’t need these files as often, you won’t want them getting in your way.
Filing Systems Should Be Easy
Choose an organized filing system that will be easy for you to use.
Consider categorizing files by project, client, department, or for the home office: finances, utilities, appliances, etc. Break the categories into sub-categories if needed. For example, within “Utilities” keep a folder for cellular phones, electric bills, internet service, etc.
Color coding the categories helps quickly locate the needed file. For example, use green folders for finance, blue for insurance.
Alphabetizing is another option for an organized filing system. When naming a file, consider using the first word that comes to mind. More than likely, that’s the word you’ll think of when trying to locate the folder.
But keep the labels general “Insurance – Car” is better than “Malibu Insurance,” because you won’t have to change the file name if you get a new car. And starting the label with “Insurance” will organize all insurance folders together.
Always file newer papers in the front of the folder. Or the back. Choose whichever seems logical to you, and stick to it. Papers will automatically be in chronological order, making it easier to locate the latest meeting minutes or most recent statement. It’s also easier to purge old records regularly.
Keep Your Office Filing System Current
Don’t keep what you don’t need. Remember your active files are for active information or projects only. As projects are finished, decided whether you need to archive the files or dispose of them.
If you kept filing consistently, you’ll never dread a long afternoon of purging files again. Simply remove older reports each time you add a new one.
An organized filing system is functional and up-to-date. By following these basic concepts you’ll be able to quickly find any paper you’re looking for.