WORKPLACE / OCT. 17, 2014
version 7, draft 7

Tips for Effective File Management

Even with the modern emerging technologies, many businesses still deal with paper documents such as receipts, contracts and letters. A good and reliable filing system is therefore very important to ensure that these documents can be retrieved quickly when necessary. Failing to manage files properly leads to wastage of precious time looking for misplaced documents and files.

The following are some great guidelines for managing your files:

#1 Don’t keep unnecessary documents

Avoid the temptation of filing every document that comes your way. Instead, take time to analyze the content to determine if it is important for your business. If it isn’t, get rid of it right away. Eliminating unnecessary files will cut down on clutter and make it easier to locate things in future.

#2 Use a specific filing method

Some of the common filing methods used include geographical, chronological, numeric, topical or alphabetic. In geographical filing, documents are arranged according their geographic location. This method is suitable for businesses that have offices spread across different countries or regions. Chronological filing involves storing files by date. Numeric filing arranges files according to numbers, while alphabetic filing makes use of the letters of the alphabet. Finally, topical filing involves filing documents based on their subject matter.    

#3 File related documents together

Storing related documents together makes it easier to retrieve them. For instance, when carrying out a project, it would be advisable to keep all the related receipts, spreadsheets, letters, graphics and reports in a single folder.

#4 Get rid of documents occasionally

Having documents filed does not mean that you have to keep them indefinitely. After a certain time period, you might find that some documents are no longer necessary. Therefore, it would be prudent to get rid of them and make space for other important documents. This prevents cluttering in your storage area.

#5 Make digital copies

Instead of filing paper versions of documents, you could consider making digital copies using a scanner. These files can then be stored in a computer or cloud storage. Digitizing documents is especially useful when there isn’t enough space for storing paper documents. However, this technique is not applicable when it comes to documents like contracts which require handwritten signatures.

#6 Separate completed work from ongoing projects

To avoid confusion, it is very important to separate finished work from that which is still in progress. You could consider keeping unfinished work on your desk until it is done. After completion, you can then transfer it to the appropriate files.

#7 Assign file management to a sole party

Allowing everyone to access files will only end up creating confusion in your office. If anything went wrong, you wouldn’t know who to hold accountable. Therefore, to avoid this situation, it would be advisable to assign the task of file management to a specific department or individual. This way, it will be easier to keep track of your documents and files.

Proper file management is a must for every business. Having good file management practices will enable you to handle tasks in an orderly and timely way, thus enhancing your productivity.

 

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