What's that you say? You want to file, but
don't know where to begin? We have a comprehensive overview of what a well-executed
filing system looks like to get you started.
The hallmark of an effective filing system
is being able to easily retrieve what you need, when you need it. Filing
systems generally fall into two broad categories: 1) working (or temporary)
files and permanent (archival) files.
which can reside either in a desktop file system, or in a nearby filing
cabinet, include documents frequently in use such as:
Permanent files should be kept separate from
working files, either in a separate filing cabinet or in archival cardboard
boxes in storage. When a project is finished, or a document is complete and no
longer needed (i.e. old taxes), it's time for permanent storage.
in mind that not all completed projects or documents need to be saved
indefinitely, so assess what you have, purge what's not needed and set up a
retention schedule for documents you do keep, specifying how long each file should
the retention schedule separately from the archived files and synch it to your
computer or paper calendar for a year-to-year review. Purging archival files
after they've outlived their usefulness keeps your paperwork from growing into
Love Your Labels
filing systems make effective use of labels. Be sure to use broad, generic
headings that are meaningful to you and comprehensible to others if the filing
system is shared. Think thick, not thin: files shouldn't be subdivided to the
point where it's difficult to keep track of categories, (i.e. design your files
to capture about two-inches of material, rather than say, two sheets of paper).
Consider color coding your files if doing so makes sense to you.
The Art of Arrangement
your files, decide on your organization strategy. Design your system, with
headings and subheadings on paper, before you beginning labeling. Choices include:
To Cabinet or Not?
all filing systems need to be kept in a cabinet. Consider using a desk-top
holder or wall file similar to a magazine rack to keep daily or to-do files
close at hand. One idea is to keep a desk-top folder with files that contain
all the general categories in your larger filing cabinet, so you can keep
documents at your finger tips before moving them into their corresponding
category at the ends of each week or month.
every item is easily filed so consider using boxes or bags to store unwieldy or
oversized items. Cardboard or metal boxes can capture magazines or fabric
samples, and keep tubes handy if you often need to store maps, prints or other
make it easy to add new files to your system. Keep labels and files on hand so
you can quickly add a new file rather than starting a new pile!
does your filing system work? If you make clever use of color-coding or
unorthodox filing set-ups, please share your thoughts or photos with us here by leaving a comment!
by Carly Fadako
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Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates
passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization. Believing in "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.