You know the feeling. You’re looking for a document you filed a few weeks ago. You went right to the file where it should be, but it’s not there. So now you’re up against the clock, frantically searching for it.
You aren’t alone. It’s a simple fact that offices run more smoothly with effective document filing systems. So whether it’s your home office or a filing system at work, you need a plan for filing documents.
Searching for misplaced documents costs businesses a considerable amount of wasted money every year. For example, one study says 75% of the time spent with paper documents is wasted searching and filing.
You can’t afford to waste time like that, so let’s look at three pro tips for document filing to keep your office running efficiently.
1. You Need a Plan
All the experts agree that a successful system for filing documents starts with a plan. First, carefully think through how you will retrieve files. By customer or company name? By category?
Next, take the time to list all of the different types of documents you are filing, then sort the documents to file into major categories. For example, let’s call one Finances.
Now take those major categories and break them down again. Go back to Finances and break your pile into sub-categories like Credit Cards, Bank Accounts, and so forth.
If you need to, keep going for more detail. You might need to have several files under Bank Accounts.
2. Clear and Consistent
Once you have organized all of your documents, it’s time to start labeling. Color coding the different categories makes filing and retrieval more straightforward. Following the system now save lots of time and aggravation later.
Let’s say you decide to make Finances red. Each of the Finances sub-categories will have red labels, go into red file folders, then into their own hanging files.
Using color-coded labels and folders quickly becomes second nature. You will automatically know it’s in the red filing section when you need a bank statement.
When it’s time to print the actual labels, follow the major to sub-category system. Making a label that reads, ‘Golden Savings Bank’ creates confusion.
Instead, that label should read, ‘Savings Bank: Golden.’ Why? Because when you file things alphabetically, all of your Savings Bank files will be next to each other.
3. Share the Plan
Now you know how your filing system works, and that’s great. How long will it keep working if no one else knows? Not long. Take time to do two things.
First, write out the detailed instructions on how the system for filing documents is organized. Be clear and specific.
Next, and even more critical, with multiple filing cabinets, create a map that shows what each cabinet and drawer contains.
Post the instructions and diagram next to the filing cabinets so everyone sees them.
Document Filing Made Simple
Invest the time now to follow these pro tips on how to organize document filing, and you’ll see big payoffs in the future. More efficiency and less stress are good things!
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