3 Simple Filing Guidelines
By Maria Gracia
One of the most basic ways to find papers when you need them is to retrieve them from an effective filing system. A good filing system will allow you to find what you're looking for in 10 seconds or less.
Here are 3 simple filing guidelines that can help:
- CATEGORIZING. A filing system is only effective, if you can find everything you need, when you need it--without a struggle. And all good filing systems have different categories of papers. Your papers are either going to fall into a MAIN category, or a SUB-category.
For example, a main category might be FINANCIAL. Some sub-categories within Financial, may be:
- Savings Account
- Checking Account
- Money Market Account
In your filing cabinet, your main categories should always be hanging file folders with a labeled tab. Your sub-categories should be labeled manila file folders inside the appropriate main category hanging folder.
- BASIC FILING SYSTEMS. For the most part, people choose to use one, or a combination of, these basic filing systems:
- Alphabetical (A, B, C, D, etc.)
- Numerical (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.)
- Chronological (Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, etc.)
For sequential case numbers or projects that are numbered, a numerical system would probably work best.
If it is necessary for you to find things by date, then chronological may be your choice.
Some people get really creative and use a combination of these systems. For example, you may want your main categories to be chronological, but the sub-categories inside to be alphabetical.
- LABELING. If a file isn't labeled properly, it's not going to be quick and easy to find:
- Always write your subject on the tab of the file folder, close to the top of the tab, so you can easily see it when you're looking through your files.
- Use a medium point, black marker to label your files. Print; don't use script.
- Use as few words as possible on the tab.