Have you ever kept a client waiting on the phone while you searched through files for an important document? Do you stumble across papers and wonder why you’re saving them?
Even though many files are electronic, most of us still handle reams of paper and retrieving the right document at a moment’s notice can be challenging. An effective filing system with adequate storage will save precious time and frustration. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you can avoid these five common filing pitfalls.
5 Filing Pitfalls and Their Solutions
Pitfall #1: Not planning ahead.
Solution: Before setting up files, consider an organizational scheme that makes sense to you. Start by first sorting loose papers into general categories such as: project, correspondence, client, invoices, staff, reading material, etc. Then drill down into sub-topics if needed.
Use a hanging file folder for general categories and multiple interior file folders for sub-topics. Once the folders are in the file drawer you can arrange using one of these common choices:
- alphabetically, great for filing by client name
- numerical, ideal for invoices, purchase orders or other numbered files
- chronological, especially useful for inactive or back-up files
Pitfall #2: Not color-coding.
Solution: The brain’s visual system can process color quickly, so take full advantage of colored labels, dots or folders. In a cramped file drawer you can zero-in on a specific color to find exactly what you need.
One word of caution: don’t over complicate with too many colors or use colors that may be unavailable when you need them again.
Pitfall #3: Keeping papers you don’t need.
Solution: Always ask yourself, “Do I need to keep this? Can I find this information again if I need it? What is the worst thing that will happen if I toss this?”
For many of us this may mean recycling old meeting agendas, obsolete research, dated files, and other non-essential papers.
Pitfall #4: Using the wrong file cabinets.
Solution: If it’s difficult to retrieve files because your drawers are overstuffed, it’s time to replace your filing cabinet. Consider moving from a two-drawer to a four-drawer or invest in vertical cabinets.
Before purchasing something new consider the following:
- Where will your file cabinet be located? A lateral file is easy to access if it’s placed next to your desk while a vertical file may be a better choice if it will be placed behind you.
- How often will you need to get into it? Select a sturdy one for daily use, lightweight for less use.
- How much does it need to hold? Unless you plan on regularly purging files, be sure a cabinet will grow with your needs.
- What type of files will it hold? For business critical information, a fireproof cabinet may be a good choice. But think carefully about where you want it placed because these cabinets are heavy and difficult to move.
Pitfall #5: Putting files in inconvenient places.
Solution: Keep active files at the forefront in a handy drawer or at eye level and semi-active files further back. Archive inactive files in cardboard banker’s boxes, ideally stored in another room or out of sight.
While it might be easy enough to find electronic files, that’s not the case with paper. In fact, today’s filing systems haven’t changed much since Abraham Lincoln! Having an effective filing and storage system will make you more productive and confident you can find the right piece of information at the right time – and maybe get a promotion to boot!
Let OfficeZilla Supply Your Filing Needs
OfficeZilla has everything you need to get those files organized. It’s time to avoid those filing pitfalls, and give your system an overhaul!