Designing a Filing System

·          Ask yourself: “Why am I keeping this piece of paper?”

-  When will you need it? What will prompt you to retrieve it? Name and file the document accordingly.

-  Can you easily get this information later somewhere else? If yes, don’t save it.

-  How often will you use this document? Keep frequently-used files closest to your desk.


·          Plan the names of your file folders:

-  Make a master list of main categories and subcategories, using an outline or mind map format.

-  Use action words that mean something to you. For example, instead of “Bills” use “Bills to Pay”; instead of “Articles” use “Articles I wrote,” “Articles I’m thinking of writing,” and “Article ideas.”

-  Use groups to keep like records together. For example, under a group like “Financial” you’d keep files to do with your current income and expenses such as “Bank statements,” “Charity,” “Taxes,” and “Utilities.”

-  Alphabetize the files within each group.

-  Be consistent. If you use “Insurance, Health” then use “Insurance, Life,” “Insurance, Homeowners,” and “Insurance, Auto.”



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Setting Your Files Up

·          Keep frequently-used files at arm’s reach in a desktop file bin or in the file drawer of your desk.


·          For hanging file folders, insert the plastic tab in the front of the folder to make it easy to see and easy to file.


·          Group like files together (client files, financial files, project files).


·          Allow 2 inches for expansion in each drawer. When a drawer gets too full, weed out old papers for archiving or shredding.


·          Don’t file what you don’t need:

-  Use staples instead of paper clips.

-  Unfold papers before filing.

-  Remove envelopes unless they’re important.


·          Neatly fold or trim large items. To fold legal size documents for a letter size file folder, fold over 2-3 pages at a time at the bottom.


·          File immediately whatever you can. If you don’t file an item right away, write in the upper right corner where you’re going to file it.


·          As you read mail: (1) Toss, (2) File immediately, (3) Write the name of the file folder in the upper right, (4) Add to your “To Do” list, or (5) Take action immediately.



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