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How to Create an Effective File Management System

10 Mar. 2022

You have a deadline to meet, and when you think you've got things under control, your boss asks you to track some documents from previous transactions. Now, you have to rush through your work to beat the deadline. 

The big problem is that your files are disorganized, and you can only choose between meeting your deadline and facing your boss's wrath, or failing the deadline and spending your day rummaging through your poor filing system for the misplaced document.

Well, haven't we all been there before? It could be frustrating and plain exasperating. 

However, with an effective file management system in place, you wouldn't need to go through all that stress. 

Aside from reducing the risk of document loss, a suitable filing mechanism will keep your business organized and ensure it runs smoothly. You also enjoy a spick and span space. Now, you can happily sing along your favorite song while you work and multitask.

To help you create an effective file management system at work, below is a guide.

If you already have a sound filing system, this article will provide more information to ensure that the system remains efficient.

1. Choose a Suitable Filing System

Before you start to keep your documents, you must decide on a filing order. Whether you choose the numerical order, alphabetical order, or another way, ensure that the system is suited for seamless execution.

Also, decide whether you are going for a digital filing system, a paper filing system, or both. While storage space is not a significant consideration with digital filing systems, it is essential in paper filing systems. 

For a paper filing system, when picking out a filing cabinet, you must consider the future expansion of your file management system. For instance, by choosing a cabinet capable of storing twice the current number of your files, you can easily store new, additional files in the long run. 

Furthermore, selecting an appropriate filing system will reduce the need to change or upgrade your file management system regularly.

2. Invest in File Folders

Purchasing user-friendly and long-lasting folders is a good move. This investment encourages the employment of specific filing systems. 

Colour coding is an example of a filing mechanism that requires the purchase of folders. It involves categorizing paperwork into different colours of file folders. 

For instance, ‘customer information could be filed in the yellow folders while the ‘finance’ could be stored in the red folders.

3. Use a Good and Consistent Labelling System

The purpose of a file labelling system is to aid easy identification and retrieval of a document.  While an alternative way of identifying a file is by looking through its content, this method is likely to waste more time. So, if you can’t afford to lose time and want to recover your files without difficulties, you should consider investing in a sound labelling system. 

A good file labelling template will show consistency throughout the whole system. For example, if you use color-coding for certain folders, make sure to stick to the system.

Also, make sure that files, particularly those in different categories, are labelled in a way that identifies them and shows their relationship to one another.

4. Personal Preferences and Habits

If the filing system is for your employees, you should consider the workers that will need frequent access to the file storage before deciding the type to procure. 

If the file management system is for your use, you must consider the files that you need regular access to, how often you wish to leave your desk, your workflow, and so on.

5. Create Subfolders

Instead of overfilling and over-stretching a single hanging file folder, you can separate its content into smaller divisions. The point is to declutter the documents on a particular subject and lodge them into fitting subdivisions.

6. Refrain from Storing Unnecessary Documents

It is easy to keep any paperwork that falls into your hand. Keeping this piece of paper may appear to be a wise decision at the moment because you think the paperwork may be helpful in the future. 

However, you may just be adding another unnecessary item to your file storage, which can potentially increase cluttered storage. That said, a quick check of its content should tell you if a document is worth keeping or not.

7. Organize Documents Chronologically

You must ensure to date all documents in your file storage. After doing this, it will be easy to arrange your files in chronological order. This practice aims to make file retrieval easier. 

Final Words

These tips must have provided you with effective file management to show you how to make an easy and sustainable task.  

For a file management system to be helpful, the type you get must be the right fit for you and your business. 

If you can't afford the luxury of physical space, you may want to consider digital means of filing. After all, it is easier to share and secure most documents in digital form.

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