Office documents need to be stored in a safe place so your business has physical records of important information. While storing the information is easy, organizing it effectively is the hard part. Anyone can throw papers into a filing cabinet, but very few can make a categorized system to find a specific document quickly.
Letting information pile up leads to one big risk – you don’t know if or when something goes missing. Missing, in this case, could mean anything from a simple misplacement to criminal theft. Organizing your documents is the first step in ensuring that you know where paperwork is at all times.
Before you step in front of the file cabinet and begin the harrowing task of sorting through all of its contents, you should remember a few key organization principles.
Get Rid of Unneeded Materials
As you clean out old drawers, remember that the goal is to wind up with fewer documents than you started out with. When you come across an old item from years ago, do yourself the favor of throwing it out before it continues to clutter the rest of your space. Having a file for “miscellaneous” documents will just increase confusion and disorganization down the road. Keep in mind that these materials shouldn’t be simply dumped in a trashcan, but instead carefully shredded in your office or by a certified professional document destruction service. Contact PROSHRED Dallas-Ft. Worth for an affordable and quick way to securely dump that unneeded paperwork.
Every file cabinet can be split into broad categories. Tax returns, client records, billing history, and employee information are just some categorical examples of the documents you might be dealing with. With colored sticky notes, binders, or folders, you can compartmentalize the contents of a drawer as soon as you open it – knowing where to look for the desired document. You can even have separate color-coded trays and bins, like a red box for paperwork that’s ready to be discarded, green for projects that are ongoing, and yellow for documents that need revision.
Take It From the Expert
According to Cynthia Ewer, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Organized, filing paperwork should follow a simple A-B-C formula. In Ewer’s easy-to-remember acronym, we separate documents into three main areas of focus:
- Action files: Documents that require our action in the future (i.e. a bill that needs to be paid on/by a specific day or contract that needs to be signed).
- Basic files: Routine services, client correspondence, receipts, invoices and other recent documents about your business’s finances should be grouped with other “basic files” as no longer needing immediate attention, but still too recent for long-term storage.
- Classic files: Archives, records, and other vital history that your business depends on. These files are need only infrequently, but their possession is still absolutely necessary.
Prioritizing paperwork into these three categories helps you understand what information is most pressing. This will save you huge amounts of time over a folder that’s simply called “finances,” for instance.
Go Alphabetical and Chronological
Lumping all of your client information into the same folder will be a disaster when you eventually need to find something. File your documents in alphabetical order to make look-up easy and hassle-free. Of course, for things like service records, it is always best to use chronological order, giving you a good idea of when certain repairs were made.
Of course, very few people actually enjoy cleaning out file cabinets, but investing a few hours of your time now can save many more in the future. If this is your first time cleaning out an old filing cabinet, you might notice an inordinate amount of paperwork starting to pile up. Take care of it the right way by securely shredding it with PROSHRED, Dallas-Ft. Worth’ leader in on-site document destruction solutions.