If someone asks to see your filing system in the office or even at home, how would you react? Would you jump at the chance to brag or would you play deaf and simply ignore the request? Let’s face it; unless you have a notorious obsessive-compulsive disorder, having an immaculate filing system is next to impossible.
I know someone who used to work in an office setting and had to deal with loads of paperwork day in and day out. She was known in the office as the “lady with the messy desk.” Even so, she was very effective at work and seemed to work better on her haphazard table. She says she found it easier to locate any file or paperwork she needed when her desk is like that – sloppy and unorganized. That’s how she worked, and since she was efficient and able to meet billing deadlines without hitches, everybody left her and her messy desk alone.
Still, there are those who go into a full-on panic attack once papers and what-have-you start piling up on their tables. Apparently, they panic because they feel that their most important files have just been swallowed by who-knows-what. They cringe at the thought that locating “missing” files would only make them miss important deadlines. They start thinking how they can start with the grueling task of file organization. At the same time, they wonder if it’s even possible to create a system that would allow them to store and locate files easily.
Truth is it’s possible to create a filing system whether at home or in the office. Indeed, your filing system need not be frustrating. These simple tips will help you organize your files and keep your desk spic and span.
The first step is to create filing categories. For instance, if you’re setting up the filing system at home, you could start by sorting your documents using broad categories. You could have a category for “household stuff,” “finances,” “payables,” and “miscellaneous.”
Next, add sub-categories: household stuff could include important documents pertaining to the house itself (title, mortgage papers, etc.) while finances could include bank statements, credit card statements, and the likes. For payables, you could include bills for utilities, cable, and others. All other documents that seem to be at loose ends should be kept in the miscellaneous file.
Separate working files from archival documents. This means you should keep current files (perhaps files you refer to every now and then) separate from permanent files (bills that have been settled already and other outdated documents that you might still need sometime in the future).
Label the files accordingly. If you have separated the files according to category, make sure you write the main category in bold letters and print the sub-categories underneath.
Color-code the labels for easier identification. For instance, you can assign the color purple for your “finances” file. Using different purple folders, segregate your files accordingly – bank statements go into one folder, credit card statements into another. Use the folder tabs to identify each sub-category.
Arrange the files into a secure drawer. You could arrange the files alphabetically, by subject, chronologically, or numerically. Think of a method for arranging the files that would make it easy for you to locate what you need.
By following the above-mentioned steps, you’d be well on your way to an organized desk and systematized filing.