Is your office drowning in paperwork? If so, you may know that you need a filing system but aren't sure exactly how to implement one. This project can be daunting, but a few steps will make it easier.
1. Gather All Documents
You can't create a good system for anything if you don't know what all is involved. So, rather than diving in to try segregating and putting items in their places, begin by corralling all the documents and related items that will need to be filed away. This isn't a time to worry too much about the order of things or categorizing items. Just get it in one place so you can work with it as a whole.
2. Create Categories
To categorize documents, you'll first need to think about what information you need to access and how you find it. If you work with clients, for instance, you may create a file for each client and place them in alphabetical order. However, if you do many one-time-only sales and generally look up information based on the type of sale, using client files may be unnecessary labor. You might, instead, create sales categories with additional sub-categories.
You will likely end up with more than one set of files because you may need to track customer information by job number or name and you may also need to keep copies of invoices by invoice number or date. There's nothing wrong with this, so be adaptable based on what information you actually need to find at different times.
3. Choose an Expandable System
Once you have an idea of how you will categorize documents, look for an office filing system that will work with those parameters. Your system should be easy for everyone to access but also have security features — particularly if anything contains personal identifiable information. Some offices prefer a mobile filing method for convenient use, while others use permanent installations due to size and aesthetics.
The system should also be expandable for future growth. The last thing you want to do is to have to rethink and redo your entire method after only a year or two of growth. Depending on your expectations, this may mean leaving space for an additional cabinet or two. Choose furniture that matches your office filing system.
Now you're ready to get organized. Once you have all the documents you need, you can start categorizing based on specific information access and your physical system plans. Your office will undoubtedly benefit as it becomes more organized.