How to Organize Office Files

Anyone can learn how to organize office files and make it easy to find and identify important information quickly. The benefits of organizing are manifold and include having more free time to enjoy the pleasures of life. Improving efficiency is another good reason to manage records. The file organization process refers to paper as well as electronic information on your computer. Being able to locate information quickly when you need it saves time and energy.

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Tips for Managing Filing

Photo courtesy of Liz Marie AK

The first step in learning how to organize your office files requires setting aside a special area for storing incoming documents such as letters. This can be a tray, or section of a desk or a desk drawer. In addition to having this area, it is necessary to process these incoming documents as quickly as possible. Many people as a rule handle incoming correspondence only once, that is, they deal with it as soon as they get it. When this is not possible, put them aside for later action.

The next step is to organize, send items to the relevant persons or throw out incoming documents that you do not plan to act on right away. Putting aside letters or documents that you will never deal with only adds to clutter and makes it seem like you have more to do than actually the case. Using folders can also help in the management of documents, as long as you label them appropriately. These can be ‘bills to be paid by x date’ or ‘letters to respond to by x time’. Adding a timeline to your action ensures that you work on documents steadily instead of keeping them indefinitely.

Having in and out boxes or trays makes it easy to handle correspondence. As soon as you finish processing a document, it should go into the out box for filing. This will help keep your desk and work area clear. Other ways to keep your desk clear include using containers to store items such as pens, pencils, paper clips and other office supplies.

People often overlook another aspect of organizing, which is scheduling their tasks. If you want to know how to organize your office files, you should ideally set aside time for specific tasks. This will allow you to complete each task in a timely manner without feeling rushed. You can also try setting aside a specific block of time each day to handle email correspondence.

Other easy tips on how to organize your office files include:

  • Color coding your documents to make them easier to find and make it simple to detect misplaced items. Color codes can be numerical or chronological.
  • Make folders for documents and place anything relating to that project into the appropriate folder. For example, make folders for individual clients, vendors, projects and other easily identifiable headings and keep these in a cabinet when not in use.
  • Never overstuff folders, desk drawers or other areas you use for storage as this will make it difficult to access and use these when you need them.
  • Where possible, schedule time to return calls relating to documents on your desk. Remove and file these documents after handling the issue.
  • Tidy your desk at the end of the workday leaving out only those documents you need to work on the following day. This minimizes clutter on your desk and makes documents less distracting and overwhelming.

Whatever system you decide to use, it should be easy and simple to manage; otherwise, it will take up too much time. When you know how to organize office files, you will find that you have more time on your hands. Disorganization is a big factor in people finding their jobs stressful and time consuming. It also costs money since it slows you down, especially if you have to search through piles of documents to find what you need.

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