filing cabinet

Get your filing cabinet sorted with our easy filing system…

Filing cabinets seem to exist in one of two states of being; either they’ve got out of control, or were never under control in the first place. All too often, our filing cabinets evolve as our businesses grow, and without a specifically designed filing system in place, they quickly become a random repository for all manner of papers and files.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. A filing cabinet should be a useful storage system, a working reference tool and a credit to your business. In order to get from where it is now to where you want to be, you’re going to need a filing ‘workflow’. Here’s how to do it.

Assess

Before you begin, figure out what it is you want from your filing system. Do you need to be able to find documents more easily? Do you need more space? Is it the wrong size or shape for the paperwork you most commonly store?

Think at this point about the location of your filing cabinets too. Filing cabinets in high traffic areas should be reserved for documents you need most often, such as personnel files or client files. Documents you are keeping for compliance, such as old tax returns and five years of old invoices, could be archived away in a cupboard or storage facility, freeing up space in your office for easier file management.

Purge

Before you rush out and buy a bigger filing cabinet because you think you’re short on space, how about we have a good old clean out of the files you already have. This is a two-phase process which will involve some fun shredding and some not so fun archiving:

  1. Shredding: What are you keeping that you really don’t need? Old utility bills are unnecessary, as long as you have an up to date one with correct information on it. Credit card statements are similarly redundant, as are files on long gone employees and clients you haven’t dealt with in a decade.
  2. Archive: Some items need to be kept, but don’t need to be readily accessible, so put them into deep storage. Old tax returns, bank statements, pensions statements and so on should certainly be kept, but can be placed in an archive box and packed away unless you really need them,

Purging your cabinet of the things which you don’t really need to be in there will free up valuable space to help you start managing your paperwork more effectively.

Develop

Developing your workflow is the hardest but most important part of this process. It requires you to dedicate a little time each day to managing your paperwork, but in the long run you’ll end up with a system that works for you, and that means you can put your hand on pretty much any important document in moments.

  1. Daily task: Open the post. Choose whether to file or shred each document.
  2. Monthly task: Replace old statements with new ones; shred old ones.
  3. Quarterly: Check if the system is working. Do you need to move anything into deep storage?
  4. Annually: Transfer last year’s files into deep storage. See if anything in deep storage has outlived its usefulness. Cull files relating to finished projects and shred anything not directly relating to taxes or a current project or person.

It sounds straightforward, but it does take time and dedication to make it work, particularly your end of year purge. Set aside a good half day with your administrator to really go through everything from top to toe, because keeping on top of things will make all the difference to your future management of this system.

Implement

Reveal your shiny new filing system to your team! Encourage everyone to participate in making it work, and ensure everyone knows where to find useful documents and where to put their own contributions. With everyone working together, your filing cabinet will miraculously transform from a place for paper orphans to hang out into a wonderful resource that everyone can use.

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Last Modified / Updated on: May 31, 2018 at 11:04 am