Do you ever find yourself feeling like you have mounds of papers that you are climbing over? Maybe your floors and other horizontal services are covered? According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, it costs $120 in labor to track down a misplaced document or $250 in labor to recreate it.
YUCK! Filing systems that work with the way you work are critical to cost management.
The following tips will aid you in setting up systems to meet your needs.
File Only What You Need
Many of us (yes – I'm guilty sometimes) put things in files because it is easier to file it away than to make a decision. Recognize that your files are not dumping grounds. Do not put things in your files without first contemplating whether or not you can get rid of them.
Create a File Index
A file index is one of the most important items that you can have to help you keep control of your ever growing pile of papers! List the location of each category and folder. That way, when you need to find your documents, you will have an easier time locating what you need. I use the Paper Tiger for my file management both at home and at work. I love it!
Keep Fingertip Files at Your Desk
Fingertip files are those that you refer to all the time — phone lists, school directories, catalogs. They can be built into a great action system. What? You don't have an action system? See my next point.
Reduce the Piles into Files
If you keep your files in piles on your desk because you need to see them, try using a rolling file cart. This keeps piles off your desk but in a place where you can see them at all times.
Consider Off-Site Storage
If you are low on space, consider allowing a document storage company to store your old records in an off-site facility, or you could relocate your files to a storage facility.
Avoid Paper Clips
Clip multiple-page documents together with staples or a binder clips, but avoid paper clips because they have a tendency to get caught on other pages.
Remember You Are Ever Changing, So Your Filing System Should Be Too
Your filing system needs to be a dynamic and ever changing creature. Don't be afraid to get rid of a category if you don't use it anymore — or to add a new one if you need it. Consolidate folders that seem to go together under one larger heading, and split up categories into smaller pieces if your folders get too stuffed. Once a year, set aside time to purge the old and obsolete information from your files. If you follow these instructions, your filing system will serve you well for the rest of your life.
Use Color Coding for Your Files
Consider using a different color folder or tab for each section of files ex: all “financial” folders are green or have a green label. This makes it easier to find the file you need quickly and makes it easier to put folders back in the right place. You will now be able to put your hands on the folder you want almost instantly and run down the row of major categories until you find the right one.
Don't Over-stuff Filing Cabinets
There's nothing worse than having to file papers in a file cabinet that is overloaded! Leave enough room in file drawers so you're not using all your energy to get a piece of paper in or out.
That is it for now! I suggest that you only try to implement a few of these things rather than a bunch of them at once. Pick one or two that really speak to you, make them a habit and then add a few more.
To your success!