Filing paperwork often seems like an overwhelming task! It can be complicated and time consuming to find a home for every piece of paper that comes into your workspace. The great news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated at all. Yes, initially learning and establishing a filing system will take a bit of work, but once you have a good filing system set up, maintaining it becomes automatic, and, dare I say – easy.
It is as easy as 1-2-3 – the only three types of files you will ever need. Really! An effective filing system only contains three types of files: Action, Reference, and Archive.
Your action file is anything related to projects you are currently working on, these are files that you access frequently. Make sure that these files are close to your desk and easy to access and re-file after you have used them. Many of us pile these types of files on our desk out of fear of misplacing them, but once you set up a good filing system you can forget that fear for good!
Reference files are not accessed as often as action files, but they are still important files that you need to hold onto. These types of files don’t necessarily have to be right at your desk, but they shouldn’t be too far away either.
Archived files are files that are not needed with any regularity, if at all. These files can be kept in a storage room, or wherever else there is room and they will be safe. Archived files are mostly files that you keep “just in case”, but usually do not end up having to access.
Although all three file types play a crucial role in your business, the focus of this article is the often forgotten reference files.
Your company’s resource library is made up of reference files. How much time have you seen wasted, or wasted yourself, looking for a piece of reference material? It is easy to imagine how much more productive each member of your office could be if they quick, easy access to all the reference files they needed.
In addition to the benefit of increased efficiency, sharing a central reference filing system can unite an office. Teamwork is fostered when resources are shared in order to benefit every member of the office.
The first step in pooling your office reference files is to choose a system that will work best with your current available workspace as well as your corporate climate.
Since reference files are accessed less frequently than action files many offices choose to create a general reference file in a central location in the office. Locating reference files outside of anyone’s individual workspace makes it easier for any member of the team to access a file without disturbing someone else. It also has the benefit of clearing up individual workspaces for individual files.
A great way to ensure the success of your new filing system is to get as many people as possible on board with the implementation. Start by having a brief training session on the filing system you choose so that everyone is clear on how it works. Then have a business organizing brainstorming session to work out the details like where it will be located and how it will be maintained. Once everyone sees how easy it can be to manage reference files, and how much more productive that can be, they will finally make use of those important reference files!
Sherry Borsheim has been creating business organizing systems to help businesses and individuals get organized for over 23 years. She specializes in organizing Microsoft Outlook, and streamlining paper, email, time and space workflow issues. She recognizes that each client’s situation is unique and works with them to create custom, effective organizing systems. Get your free e-kit “7 Ways to Organize Your Workspace” by visiting www.bizorganizing.com now.