How do you create a file management system? The process really is simple, and it can be personalized to your business.
To help you get started, we’ve created this handy guide. Keep reading for ten ways to improve your file management system at work.
1. Choose Once Location
To keep your files organized, choose one master location for all documents. We’re talking every document that your business uses and creates.
Once you’ve done that, you can create sub-folders. This will allow you to store documents in categories, whether that’s by project, file type, or some other way of categorizing.
By choosing a single place for all your files, you’ll enhance your organization. No more pulling out multiple drawers or searching through multiple computer folders looking for that file you need.
2. Have a Backup Plan
Make sure you always backup all documents. Doing so will help ensure you never lose something important.
Being organized is one thing, but it doesn’t matter how organized you were if your computer crashes and all your files are lost. Choose a location separate from your computer to back up your information.
If you use paper files, make copies of all important documents so they’re stored in more than one place.
3. Use Labels
If your office has tons of paper files sitting around, you’ve probably got a mess on your hands. Instead of putting everything in a single stack, or even multiple stacks, use labels instead.
A simple label can really cut down on your time spent looking for a file. Be specific when creating your labels so you’ll be able to find files when you need them.
Make sure your headings are easy for others to understand too if you’re not the only one who’ll need access to the files. Simple headings such as “Expense Reports, 2018,” and “Employee Training Records” make great, easy to understand labels.
When organizing electronic files, make sure you use folder names that make sense.
4. Choose a File Naming System
Keep documents organized across the company by implementing a company-wide file naming system. This will make it easy for everyone to understand what each file is.
Your naming system could be as simple as using the name of the file, plus an underscore, plus the creator’s name. Or you can leave out the creator entirely.
If you’ll have files with the same name that were made in different years, make sure you include a year in the file name.
Whatever system you decide on, make sure it’s used across the board.
5. File Regularly
Papers and electronic files alike can pile up. Don’t just through them all on your desktop (literal or electronic).
Make it a habit to file things away as soon as they don’t need to be out anymore. Doing so will reduce clutter as well as the time you’ll have to spend on filing things later.
6. Get Rid of What You Don’t Need
Chances are, you’ve got some files hanging around that you don’t need anymore. Whether they’re old enough that they aren’t needed, or they’re for people no longer employed by the company, throw them out.
There’s no point in keeping files you don’t need. Just make sure you shred any documents that contain sensitive information.
Set up a schedule to regularly go through your files and determine what you don’t need to keep anymore.
7. Organize Other Files, Too
Keeping electronic documents in order is great, but what about other types of files? Program files also need to be kept in order.
Reduce confusion and a cluttered electronic workspace by keeping all program files in the same place. Your computer’s default location is great for this. There’s no reason to store them in lots of different directories. Bring them all to the same location.
8. Create Good Habits
Bad habits are big culprits when it comes to disorganization. Take a look at how you store your files and note all the bad habits you’re giving in to.
Do you throw files on your desk to look at later? Maybe you have a pile sitting on your shredder that just needs to be destroyed.
Decide now to take care of things immediately. Don’t make a “needs to be shredded” pile. Just shred each file as soon as you know it’s not needed.
And don’t make piles of documents on your desk. Just put them where they go in the first place. This is easier if you already have a management system in place.
9. Use a Document Management Company
If document management seems like too much to add to your plate, hire a company to handle it for you.
If you feel reluctant to use an outside company for help remember how much time and effort they’ll save you. Sometimes it’s worth it to hire out.
10. Track Each Version
A document or file may go through revisions. That’s okay. It’s bound to happen.
But what happens if you need to access a document again and you can’t remember which version is the latest? Avoid this issue by always clearing marking your files, whether they’re digital or physical.
It may be tempting to simply keep editing in the same file. That may not be the best move, though, if you may want to go back to a previous version. For this reason, saving each version is a good idea.
Make sure you include a date or some other indicator so you know which version is the latest.
Implement These Tips for a Successful File Management System
Document management doesn’t have to be hard. It just takes a little effort and teamwork. As long as everyone’s on board, your company’s files don’t have to be a mess.
Keep these tips in mind as you update or create your file management system. Trust us, you’ll be glad that you did.
Do you work from home? Whether you do it occasionally or regularly, you need organization there just as much as in a regular office. To make things easier for yourself, check out our article on creating the perfect home office.