One of the last tasks that I addressed as part of my own home office makeover was to organize the files in my NYC home office so that I could quickly locate key paperwork when needed. I resisted the temptation to stuff folders in the file drawers in a random fashion so that I could just be done with the paper organizing and move onto a task that would be more enjoyable. I had sorted the contents of my files during an earlier paper organizing phase of this project so I was purely focused on organizing the files in my NYC office.
I started by devoting less than 5 minutes to creating a plan of attack and then moved right into implementing it. Having a specific set of goals kept me focused and efficient so that my NYC home office files were set up within 30 minutes.
My approach was really simple…
Sort folders by file category. As the folders could only fall into one of the following categories, I quickly assigned each one to the most appropriate category.
- Action: The materials contained in these folders require some type of action. In my case, my current client folders fit into this category.
- Reference: These are the files that you refer to as you are addressing your daily tasks. I included my Virtual Assistant’s folder, guest blogging folder and business coach’s folder in this category.
- Archive: These are the files that you don’t access often but need to keep as they contain information that may be needed occasionally. This includes my tax returns, incorporation documentation and NAPO continuing education certificates.
Identify the best storage location. Once the folders were sorted by category, I assigned a storage location based on the concept of prime real estate. Those files that I used daily need to be most accessible when I am working at my desk. Hence, the client folders and most frequently used reference files are in the rolling file cabinet under the desk. The rest of the reference files are in the lateral file cabinet across from my desk and I left room in the drawers for additional files. All of my archive files are stored in clearly labeled plastic file containers in the storage closet at the other end of the room.
Create an easy to maintain color coding system.
While color coding your filing system can make it easier to quickly locate a specific type of file, the system needs to be kept simple and be easy to maintain. I chose three different color hanging folders when setting up my system. Red folders are for clients, blue are for reference information and yellow are for my QuickBooks information and business receipts. I have a backup supply of hanging folders in all three colors so that I can quickly set up additional files when necessary.