Effective filing systems for the office make your business run more smoothly. Whether you have a huge office, a home office, or a mobile mini office, you can find papers easier and save time looking for them. To keep effective filing systems in your office, try these tasks to make your small business filing system more functional and share them with everyone in your office to keep the system going consistently.
Determine how you want to retrieve the files.
Do you want the files sorted by event, topic, or speaking engagement? Keep in mind that you may want to use broad categories and subcategories. To do this, use a hanging foldgeneral the broad category and manual folders for the specific subcategories.
An example of this could be if you want to organize your subcontractors. Your main folder would be called Contactors. The manilla folders would be the name of the subcontractors working with your business. You can add a note to the manual folder saying the name of the hanging folder to help with the people returning the file.
Another example would be “utilities.” Utilities can include a variety of different ones like gas, electricity, and water. The main hanging folder would be called “Business Utilities,” and each manilla folder would have its own name like gas, electric, etc….
Label each hanging and manila folder.
Duplication of label titles will help keep your file in the right hanging folder. This way, if you take out the manila folder, you will know what section to place the manila folder in when you need to return it.
An example of this would be naming a file a client’s name, like “John Smith”. John Smith would have a hanging folder and a manila folder. So, if someone removes the folder, another person will know it was missing.
Stick with the same labeling system.
We who use hanging folders have two options when added the tag to the folder. You can add tag to the back of the hanging folder so you can add the content to the front. OR, you can add the tag to the front of the hanging folder and place the papers and folders in the back of the tag. If you use front tags and files behind the tab, stay consistent.
If you use color folders for particular folders, keep using those colors. The inside files and hanging folders should be the same color depending on your broad categories. Some colors and categories you can use to create a color code system are:
The Blue color folder could be used for health care or HR folders.
While green color folder can be used for business savings accounts/bank accounts
The red folder color could be used for employees/subcontractors.
Whatever system you use, it’s essential to be consistent.
Leave space in the drawer for new files.
By purging every year to make room for the files, it will not only help your filing system stay current, but it will also make your system more refined with what is going on that current year.
We tend to underestimate how much room we need in a filing cabinet. Lateral filing cabinets work nicely and can store a lot of files. I found the below ones on Amazon (affiliate).
Lay the paper in the folders so you can see the tabs.
Another effective filing systems tip is to ensure the papers are filed in the folder correctly. When the filing cabinet gets full, the papers tend to stick up and hide the tab of the hanging and manila folders. So, taking an extra minute to press the papers down by pulling out the folder, placing the papers into it, and then filing it away will make for an easy view of the file name for you and your staff.
Label Each Drawer outside of the filing cabinet.
It may seem like an eyesore, but people looking for things in a filing room can easily find the right drawer when it is labeled from the outside. Label each drawer with a broad topic to help you and others find the right drawer more quickly and painlessly. Do not be specific. Use very broad topics like Company Administrative, Contracts, Agreements, etc…
Everyone needs to know the filing system’s organization.
Remember, filing systems only work if everyone knows how it is organized. They must know what to do when putting files in the filing system. Write down the exact instructions for your filing system to reference others. Hang it near your filing cabinet so everyone can refer to it. If you have several filing cabinets, you can make a floor plan map of the filing cabinets and label on the floor plan map what each drawer contains. As a result, users of the filing cabinet do not have to ask you where files are in the cabinets.
Revisit files every year or two.
Revisiting files each year and clearing out the unused and unneeded ones helps keep your space organized, and you will not need to add filing cabinets to your office. Visit our benefits and tips to revisit paper files yearly to help you do this task.
Get our free ebook about digital and physical filing system best practices.
To have a functional filing system, it needs to be organized to retrieve your needed papers easily. A filing system that is not retrievable takes up space. It is just filled with misplaced documents that are hard to find. As a result, you miss out on retrieving important information promptly. So, keep these tips in mind when creating your effective filing systems.
What filing system tips do you use to retrieve your papers effectively? Please leave a comment below so we can continue the conversation.
Feel free to check out our Procedure Evaluations and Refinement Services. We can help your small business.