Paper seems to pour into your office and it all requires a decision or action such as pay it, sign it, mail it, recycle it, shred it or file it. Notice piling it was not on the list. That just leads to missed deadlines, late fees, lost documents and dread.
So let’s try to manage it with a filing system that allows you to retrieve a document quickly when you need it.
80% of what is filed is never referred to again. So be selective and ruthless in what you keep. If it can be found someplace else like online, don’t take your valuable time and space to file it.
Creating an identity for your files is key to the process and there are several ways to approach naming files. Select the method that makes sense to you.
Subjects allow you to group related files. Create a hanging folder for each subject and then use interior folders for subcategories. For example, the hanging folder would be labeled auto and the interior folders would be insurance, loan, registration, repairs, etc.
Names work best if you have many similar files like clients or patients. Label each folder and file them alphabetically.
Numbers can be used to help protect security. This method is used in the Paper Tiger system. Your folders are numbered rather than given names. When you file a document, you indicate on a log which numbered folder it’s in.
There is no right or wrong way to label your files. We all think differently and therefore need to use the system that works best with our thought process.
When it comes to tackling the actual filing I know you want someone to wave a magic wand and I’d share that power with you if I had it.
Instead resign yourself that this is a process and it will take time to catch up. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be done all at once.
Set a timer for 15 minutes and file as much as you can. When time is up move on to something else. Schedule those small chunks of time 3 or 4 times a week. You’ll see progress after a week but for those who have been piling for a while you’ll need to persist for a few more weeks. Once everything is filed continue to schedule small filing sessions to maintain your system.