Looking to learn a basics when it comes to keeping papers and files in order?
In this post, I offer a few filing basics to help make the process of filing paper documents as easy as 1-2-3.
Make a “To File” Inbox.
Create a “To File” inbox, and store it on the top of your desk, or a nearby counter.
The idea behind this is inbox, is to give items to be filed a temporary home.
You’ll keep recently processed documents contained and will prevent them from wandering about your workstation.
When the inbox in full, simply file items.
An added bonus creating and using a “To File” inbox, is that there’s only one or two places where a recently processed document should be: filed away or in the “To File” inbox.
Create files with the purpose of retrieval.
Whenever you create a new file, or evaluate the contents of an existing one, take a moment to consider whether or not your future self will be able to easily retrieve the items.
If it’s not easy for you to figure out what should go inside the file now, chances are it will be even more difficult for you to figure out how an item should be filed in future.
Be clear and specific when labeling and creating files.
File time-sensitive documents in reverse chronological order.
File regularly recurring documents, such as monthly bill stubs or payment records, by placing current items on top of older ones.
This makes it easy to not only retrieve items, but to check billing or account discrepancies, should they arise in the future.
The oldest record for a year (January) should be placed in the back of the folder, while the most current record for a year (the previous month’s stubs or records) should appear towards the front of the folder.
Keep active and inactive/archived files.
Stop wasting time wading through files that are no longer active!
Remove inactive files and place them in a secure, dead storage location or another section of your filing cabinet.
Weed/clean out files regularly.
Any filing cabinet or filing area can hold only so many pieces of paper, folders or documents.
Set a regular schedule to review and clean/out your files either quarterly, semi-annually or annually to keep papers in check.
How about you…what filing issues seem to cause you the most trouble? Labeling items? Retrieving items? Perhaps it’s just setting aside the time to do the filing? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!