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How to Organize Files and Paperwork

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You’ve lost an important piece of paperwork that you need to process something for one of your clients. You feel like you’ve turned your entire office upside-down looking.

That’s not good. If someone else gets their hands on the paperwork before you do, they’ll have access to all your client’s confidential info.

The best chance you have of stumbling across it is to clean up your office.

Buy a cabinet to hold all the papers cluttering your desk. After that, you can organize files using tactics like chronological order and color-coding. Labeling everything helps most people as well.

These are only a few ways to organize paperwork. Check out this guide to learn more.

Separate Your Paperwork Into Categories

Chances are, you’ve got a lot of old paperwork lying around your office that you don’t even need anymore. If you do need it, it’s not something that’s too pressing to have.

Clear things up by separating all these old papers into categories. Make a keep, temporary, and shred pile.

As far as the temporary pile goes, if you don’t want to keep a bunch of papers laying around that you’re only going to reference now and again, consider making a digital copy and shredding the physical papers.

When you reduce your paperwork down to what you’re keeping, take things further by separating that into categories like billing statements and reports.

Get Rid of the Unnecessary Stuff

You need to put a little thought into getting rid of unnecessary papers. A dedicated person can put shreds of paper back together and read them.

Combating that is a simple matter of choosing the right paper shredder. The most common machine that people use is a strip shredder. They don’t take a lot of maintenance, but they don’t offer much in terms of security.

Cross-cut shredders cut paper in two directions. It makes it more difficult for someone to put the pieces back together, but you’ll need to oil the machine every now and again.

On top of investing in a shredder, it’s recommended to buy a small waste bin reserved for old documents that you’re planning on getting rid of. This will give them a place to live that’s not your desk.

Set Your Permanent Files Off to the Side

As time moves on, your permanent files will begin to overtake your cabinet to the point where it’s hard to close the drawer. Clear up some room by moving some of your older permanent files somewhere else.

You should put the important documents in a lockbox. The less crucial ones can get thrown in a waterproof container. They’ll be fine on a shelf in your office.

Order Is Your Friend

It’s good to have some kind of ordering system. Most people go the alphabetic or chronological route. Both options work.

You can sort your papers by date or by how frequently you use them. You may want to order by client, but if you do that, you’ll need to watch the dates. You want the most recent documents in front.

You can alphabetize your papers using your clients’ names. Whatever system works best for you.

Label Everything

Once you know what categories you want to sort your documents into, buy custom dividers here. You can use them to label your paperwork.

Labeling makes it easier to find your files when you need them. All you have to do is navigate to the relevant category in your cabinet and pluck out what you’re looking for.

Consider Using a Color-Coding System

If you’ve got a lot of document categories, labeling might not be enough. You may want to come up with a color-coding system.

Make sure that you keep a color key handy. It could take a while before you memorize which color goes with which category (if you ever do).

Invest in a Filing Cabinet

Do you feel like your office is being taken over by all the paperwork you deal with? You should invest in a filing cabinet to hold them all.

For those who don’t work with a lot of documents, a filing cabinet might be a little overkill. If you’re one of those people, you can get by with a little open-topped box on your desk.

Digitize Your Files

The future is now. Consider that you might not need to keep a punch of paper documents around your office. You can digitize them all instead.

Not only does it make your paperwork easier to access, but it keeps your office nice and tidy.

Scan your documents into your computer and sort them to some degree. You can come up with a creative naming system. As long as you can search for your files, it doesn’t matter.

Use Your System

Once you get organized, you’ll need to take strides to stay organized. It can be easy to fall back into bad habits.

Our advice is to sort your new paperwork as it comes in. If you put it off, the document will end up staying on your desk.

Always make room for the new stuff by moving your old documents somewhere else or shredding them if you don’t need them anymore.

Organize Files and Clean Up Your Office

Are you tired of never being able to find anything in your office? Take a day to spruce things up.

It’s a simple matter of investing in a filing cabinet and separating your documents into categories. Organize files by getting rid of old paperwork and making room for the new, and consider digitizing some of your documents.

For more tips that will help you keep your office space clean, visit the Business section of our blog.

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