It is true that we are living and working in a digital age, but that doesn’t mean paper has become obsolete. In fact, if you peek into your office right now, I’d bet you’d find a pile of paper that you’ve been meaning to file away. Don’t waste any more time searching for what you need! Here are some tips from your Professional Organizer in NYC to create a paper management system that works for your office.
Create a plan. Whether you work with a team or run a solo business, creating a plan is an important step. A written plan allows for everyone to know exactly where a piece of paper should go and where to find it when they need it. Make sure your plan includes the detailed progression of paperwork through your office. A bonus for the solo-preneurs: a written plan will make it easy for you to share information if you decide to add to your team! Another important part of your plan is developing a document retention policy. Designate a specific time to review files and make a plan for when it’s time to recycle or shred files that are no longer needed.
Pick a location. You need to pick a location that is central and easy to access. If you are working on your personal files, store them near your desk where you can access them quickly. If you are planning storage for a larger office, then pick a location that your coworkers will be able to easily access. Set yourself up for success and store action files within arm’s reach of your desk, reference files across the room or hall and the archives in a less accessible location. Designate a bin or tray for collecting papers that need to be filed in the reference or archive files and then schedule time to file them.
Set up your filing cabinet. The key here is simplicity and ease. A filing system should make your life easier, not more complicated, so take time to create categories and clearly label your file folders. Use words or phrases that will allow you to find an item quickly. Use color coded files to clearly identify important files at a glance. Think about assigning a specific color to each of the categories: one for action files (current projects), one for reference (resource or reference information), and one for archive (files you don’t use often but need to keep).
Be selective. Remember that not every item needs to be saved. It’s okay to be selective – in fact, I urge you to think critically about every piece of paper that finds its way to your desk! Obvious items that need to be saved include legal paperwork, contracts, records, etc. But other items like notes, catalogs, advertisements, and scrap paper don’t need to be taking up valuable space in your office. Have a recycling bin for items that don’t include identifying information. Set up a shredding station in your office, or utilize the shredding services at your local office supply store (such as Staples).
It’s important to remember that your paperwork plan is not set in stone. It can be changed as needed. So set time to review your plan and make adjustments accordingly. Also, remember that in order to make paper management a habit, you need to make time in your day to work on it. Schedule time to file papers and recycle or shred whatever is needed. After a while, it’ll become habit! When you are ready to overhaul your office paper organizing process, reach out to your Professional Organizer in NYC for help creating a strategy that works for you.