7 Creative Ways to Organize Your Files

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Do you need help organizing your files?7 Creative Ways to Organize Your Files

While organizing files from A-Z is wholly practical, the process can become a bit bland.

What if you want to shake things up a bit?

What if you could create a system to help you better visualize the contents of your folder?

And what if this system would allow you to work quickly and efficiently, in a way that jives with your work style and thought processes?

In this post, I offer a few creative ways for you to organize files.

It’s important to note that these organization suggestions will work well for you if you already have an assembled collection of files sitting on top of your desk or in a filing cabinet.    

If you need help creating or maintaining already existing files you should take a look at some of my other posts: How to Organize a Filing Cabinet, Organizing Tip: A Quick List of Common Household Files, How to Deal with Duplicate Paper Files, and Why Organizing Your Personal Documents is a Smart Move.

Organize files by priority level.

It’s 9 A.M. on a weekday morning at the office. You’ve got several project folders to tackle, but you’re unsure as to which you should work on first. Say goodbye to indecision by organizing your folders by priority level. You can start by organizing files into categories of high, medium, and low priority. If you’re looking for even more specificity, sort your files by levels of importance and urgency.

Organize files by due date.

Need help paying those bills and invoices on time? Why not organize your files by due date? Look through each of your household or business files, and find the billing due date. Write the due date on the front of the folder, and organize the folders from the 1st of the month through the 31st. Once you’ve made your payment, rotate the folder to the back of the stack so you’ll be ready for next month’s payment cycle.

Organize files by physical location.

One creative way to keep files organized is by their physical location. Perhaps you have stacks and stacks of files that all have to do with regional cities or towns, in one way or another. It could be something like current client accounts, educational partners, or upcoming events. You could organize these folders by grouping them into North, South, East, and West collections.

Organize files by client and/or customer name.

If you work with a recurring list of clients or customers, you may find it helpful to organize your paperwork alphabetically. Yes, this method does involve the tried-and-true method of alphabetization, but it does allow for quick retrieval by yourself or your colleagues. You could organize files by company name, last and first names, or a hybrid combination of both.

Organize files chronologically.

Have you ever thought about folders as being brief glimpses or windows into moments of time? The project or file folder you reach for today is much different from the one you worked with a month or year ago; materials are constantly being added, updated, and removed. You can organize your folders in any time-related fashion you desire. You could rework things so your folders are ordered by daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly projects, or even by past, present, and future work.

Organize files by budget.

Do you have series of files that involve some sort of professional or personal budget? Maybe you’re working on a big client marketing project, a bit of DIY decorating in your living room, or are planning a birthday party for your best friend. You can order each of the files by their total budget, from largest to smallest or vice versa. This is a convenient way to view your financials in proportion one another.     

Organize files by subject matter.

Keep your files in order by grouping them into larger, umbrella subjects. This makes it easier for you to refer to subjects as needed. Feel free to use any categories or groupings you’d like. For example, you could sort a stack of files into professional or personal categories; work, home, or school categories; or more personal categories, such as mind, body, and spirit.

How about you? How do you organize your files? Are you going to reorganize some files according the methods above or any of your own creation? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.
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2 Responses

  1. Jenn

    I like the ideas presented here! The suggestions make a lot of sense.
    I have been doing the same thing with the files on my desk for so long that I can’t think of a different way to store them. I’ve had an in box and an out box, as well as a stack of loose papers/files on the corner of my desk of things I am actively working on or waiting for more info to complete (call back, fax, etc).
    Just got new carpet in my office, so everything got boxed up and now that I need to unpack, I want to do better.
    I have had a stacking shelf for in/out/in-progress/awaiting more info, but that got messy after a time.
    Do you have any suggestions for me?

    • Rashelle

      Hi Jenn, thanks for your comment. I’d suggest doing a Google search (or use your favorite browser) for the following: file boxes (sturdy boxes in which to store files), wire file frames or holders (these sit on top of or on the side of a desk), and hanging file organizers (these hang over a cubicle, wall, or door). Some file holders have staggered sections, which allow you to see things quickly, at a glance, while others may just be one uniform level, where you’ll have to manually flip through the folders to see what’s what. I hope these suggestions give you a few new ideas when it comes to file storage solutions!