This article by Natalie Conrad of Organized Habits, and a Paper Tiger Expert, reveals that we sometimes hate paper filing because we simply don’t know how to file. Natalie gives us some great tips in how to look at our paper files differently and to set up a system that will be easier to maintain. Natalie also recommends Paper Tiger Filing System Software for Document Management to get everything in your life organized — not just for filing paper!
I spoke to a business associate of mine today and she made an interesting remark. She said that she hates to file. When I asked her why, she started to say she didn’t have time, was afraid she’d never find it again, and that it wasn’t a priority. But she finally admitted. She didn’t like filing because she didn’t know how to do it. What a revelation! What an easy thing to fix!
Did you know…… 80% of what we file, we never reference again?!!
First, there are 3 types of files: Action – Reference – Archive. Most people hate filing and I suspect it is because all of your files are grouped together and not separated by type.
Action files are those files that you reference all the time or at least weekly. They contain information that is needed to do your job or work at your desk. Therefore, these should be the files that are located in the file drawer attached to your desk. If you do not have a file drawer in your desk, then these files should go in the file drawer closest to where you sit and work.
Reference files are files that you need to reference occasionally, usually monthly or annually. A good example is your auto insurance policy. It expires either annually or semi annually. Can you think of any other files that may be reference files at home or at work? Because these files are used less frequently, they can be housed in another file cabinet, located elsewhere in your office.
Archive files. These are the paper files that my clients rarely have segregated. Archive means that this information is being kept for retention purposes. This is information, like your tax returns, that you must keep for a specific period of time or indefinitely. These files can be boxed and labeled and stored outside your immediate office. File cabinets in the store room or garage are good locations for the archive documents.
It is also important to maintain your files. Set aside some time every 6 months to go through your file drawers and purge files and documents that are no longer needed. The first time you purge your files, it may be labor intensive since it has never been done before, but keep doing this every 6 months and its goes more quickly.
This is a great video tutorial by Natalie that gives great tips in how to set up an action file system for your day to day paper files. Click here to watch how simple setting up your own system can be! Of course, you can always call Natalie to get her help on the more intense filing and organizing situations in your life.
Natalie Conrad is an organization consultant, speaker, and author in Northern California. She is also the founder of Organized Habits, a premier organizing firm, serving national and local clients in homes and small business settings. She is passionate about organizing as she believes that the clutter holds one back from pursing their life long goals and dreams. Visit Natalie’s blog for more articles like this by going to www.OrganizedHabits.com/blog