When running a home, business or being an employee, organisation is key to success. There’s an argument to say that there’s no such thing as a ‘paperless’ environment. Whilst digitisation is essential, paper continues to play a part in the way we manage our information. For this reason, a good filing system must be in place for every aspect, even the finest details. This allows you to run processes and procedures easily and efficiently, keep track of actions and find documents when necessary. But paperwork management and organisation isn’t always easy.
So, how can you create a filing system that is easy to follow, quick to use and simple? We have the tips here to help you put together the perfect filing system, no matter your situation, business or industry.
5 Tips for Creating a Good Filing System
To help you get started creating a filing system that is fool-proof, we have pulled together our top five tips that make maintaining a filing system easy. By following this advice, you will be able to improve the efficiency of your business and ensure everything is in its proper place.
1.Keep it Simple
The trick to a good filing system is to keep it simple. Overcomplicating the system makes it easier for documents and files to slip into the wrong categories and sections. It should be simple enough that anyone who may need to use it, even for the first time, should be able to understand how it works.
If you have a complex life or a business, you might find it more difficult to keep a simple system as it will inevitably take up a lot of space. For this reason, we recommend keeping less important documents paperless and filing anything you know will need to be referred back to time and time again in the future.
2. Back-Up Important Documents
We all know the benefits of a filing system, as it allows you to immediately find important documents you might need to refer to, such as receipts and contracts. But, if you do not back up your filing system with a paperless version, you could be leaving yourself open to losing it all.
For example, a variety of incidents could take place that would destroy your filing system, no matter how organised it is. From natural disasters like flooding, fires, or even human error, your impeccably organised filing system could be lost forever unless you keep a paperless copy online in a cloud based system or on a hard drive.
If you use a paper diary, you could consider taking a video of it whilst flicking through the pages every once in a while in case you lose it.
3. Make It Work for You
Remember, there is no one size fits all approach to creating a good filing system. What works for one home or business might be impossible to use for another. So, don’t make the mistake of trying to fit all of your documents into one system template if it doesn’t make sense to you. Having said that, aim for as few systems of possible. If you have a filing cabinet, lever arch folders, box files, magazine files, an in tray/out tray and concertina folders, it might be time to simplify and use less systems.
Consider the needs of your home, business or team when accessing the filing system. It’s a good idea to approach the creation of your filing system with some flexibility and understand that some trial and error may be involved. By not approaching the system with the expectation of immediate perfection, you can adapt and change it until you find the best solution. If for example, you may be unsure about whether you need a notice board or not. If you find you’re accumulating ‘piles’ of actions, this would be clue that you do!
4. Ensure its Economical
With any problem, it might be tempting to spend money on it in the hope it will fix the issue. But when it comes to a filing system that works, it’s best to keep it economical as you really don’t need to make it an expensive job.
It is always good practice to purchase within your means. Assess what you have and use that. You can cut up pieces of card or paper and use them as label inserts within hanging drawer files. And folders, ring binders, tab dividers and other equipment should not break the bank. It is perfectly possible to find affordable filing equipment that works for your needs and helps you achieve a system that works for you on both an organisational and economic level.
5. Follow a Consistent Method
When putting together your filing system, you will likely utilise a range of folders and sub-folders that allow you to break your documents down into categories. These might include names, dates, locations and document types, just to name a few examples. To make these even more easily identifiable, you can even implement a colour coding system and tab dividers.
However, it is essential that once your begin sorting your system, you keep it consistent. This means that any abbreviations for file types are the same throughout, and colour codes remain consistent. By doing this, you can ensure no files become lost or misplaced and continue an easy-to-follow solution.
This is just a taste of the many tips you can implement to create an organised filing system.
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