Do you want to 5 steps to organize files and stay on top of paperwork? Are you tired of looking for files that you know you have?
These steps to stay on top of your paperwork and organize your files involve:
Sometimes one is better than two when it comes to organizing files. It is better to have one central location for the files that you use often rather than have your files spread across your desk, in your drawers, and on top of bookcases.
One of the first things that I do as a time management coach in large organizations is have people organize their filing system. I get people to collect all the paper that is sitting on their desk, in their drawers, and other locations.
Did you know that time management statistics suggest that 80% of material that goes into filing cabinet is never used again. That means that on average, you are searching through 4 documents to get to the one you need.
Many of us are in the game of adding value to knowledge. To make the right decisions we need the right information under our noses in a timely manner. While you can't be sure what documents you may need again, it is important that you are able to access the 20% that you do need without being hampered by clutter.
So go through your documents and declutter. Ask yourself the following questions to organize files:
What are your current activities and projects. These are the categories that determine your filing system. For example you may have categories that include clients, projects, administration, and staff.
When considering your categories, choose the broadest you can within reason. You don't want your files bursting at the seams after only two weeks nor do you want your files to be almost empty. Both limit the power of an effective filing system.
When organizing your files you will:
When deciding to organize your files it is important to determine when you may need your documents again.
I remember coaching an executive in a big bank whose daily files were in a filing cabinet in the corner of her office. Every time she needed a file she got out of her chair, walked across her office and retrieved the file. This took about 30 seconds to do.
Multiplying this by 10 times per day and you find that this executive spent 6 minutes a day walking back and forth across her room. It might not sound like much, but this translates into 30 minutes a week or 25 hours a year of walking back and forth. Another consequence of this is that this executive had a very messy desk because it was too difficult to put files back.
The point I am trying to make is that if you need to consult the information several times a day then you want to have the files within arms' reach. The daily or weekly files of projects that you are currently working on need to be stored in the drawer of your desk or in a vertical file holder on top of your desk.
These steps to organize files sound easy but can be quite difficult to maintain. One of the easiest ways to maintain the habit is to ensure that before you leave work each night that you have a place for everything and that everything is in its place. This is a key organizational principle that you can also apply to your home or home office.
Also consider a framework that you want to deal with for the daily paperwork that comes across your desk. For any paper work consider the following actions that you may need to do - file, discard, delegate, or schedule for future action.