Whether you’re working from home or in the office, papers need a place to go. No one wants to be swimming in files when trying to get their work done. If your files don’t have a place to go, it can be easy to push them to the side. Doing this increases the chance that a file gets lost, damaged, or forgotten. To declutter your workspace use these steps for smarter filing:
Decide Location of Files—
Figuring out a location for files can be tricky. It needs to be convenient for everyone to reach and use. It can seem obvious to create one room dedicated to the filing; however, this can get overwhelming. The whole goal is to declutter, and a big room can feel too intimidating for people to even consider using. Think about sectioning out filing cabinets or stations throughout the building for each department. This way, everything is easy to access, and everything filed will be relevant to the people in that department. Get feedback from employees who will be using the filing system to see where it should go. Once there is a specific location picked out for the station, you can start establishing a procedure.
Establish a Process for Filing—
Creating a system for filing papers is one of the most important first steps to declutter the office. The goal is to create a reliable process and to stick with it so that things don’t get confusing in the future. You want to create a system that will allow you to conveniently and efficiently find and file all of the papers you need. You can choose to alphabetize the files, separate them by date, or any other system that works for you. Consider how employees will use the filing station, what type of files are being stores, who will be using the cabinet, and how you are going to keep it organized. These are some of the steps that go into establishing a process for effective filing:
1. Create a list of files
Deciding which files to include in the filing system is essential to figure out how to organize properly. You can use an excel sheet, Microsoft word, or pen and paper to make a list of the files that you want to include. Doing this will help you visualize what folders you need. If you’re having a hard time deciding what to include, go through your hard drive or existing filing cabinet to see the files you have included in the past. You can also ask employees what files would be useful for them. For example, if you are aiming to organize a filing cabinet by clients, you could create an alphabetized list of names to include. For company bills or invoices, you could create a list of the specific ones you want to incorporate.
When you have a list of all the files you want to include, you should go back through and figure out what to name them. Make sure the file names work well together so that no confusion happens. They should be clear and concise to navigate easily. Avoid making duplicates to avoid lost or overlooked files. Once you come up with the names for your folders you can recreate your list, organizing it how it will look in the actual filing cabinet/system.
2. Prepare the file folders and hanging files
You want to have a file folder for every file and a hanging file to organize these file folders. For example, if you wanted to label folders alphabetically, you could use a hanging file folder to organize the files that include names for a specific letter. You can mark each one with a pencil or erasable pen, label maker, or pen. Be careful when you are creating the folders to avoid duplicates as mentioned before.
3. Organize the filing cabinet
If you are starting from scratch, you can place your folders in order using the list you created from the previous steps. If you have an existing cabinet that you are reorganizing, you should take out all the files and place the new ones in. When you have all of your new and improved file and hanging folders placed into the cabinet properly, you can start filing papers into the proper place. Go through all the old file folders and place the items where they belong within the new system. Doing this can also remind you if you need to create any new folders.
4. Create a system for success
Now that everything is nice and organized, you want to come up with a way to keep it that way. Create a system that everyone understands so they will continue to use it. Try placing a basket near the filing cabinet where people can put their files throughout the day. After each day or week, have employees file their papers away. Make it part of the routine so the papers don’t sit and accumulate for months on end. It’s easy to keep up with but hard to fix when things get out of hand.
Once you decide what system you want to go with, write up an explanation. Place this near or on the filing cabinet for easy access when someone is filing. Everyone needs to understand the system to avoid errors. Usually, the papers going into a filing cabinet are important, so you want to protect them and file them the right way.
5. Set up an area for easy disposal
You don’t want a bunch of useless documents sitting around, taking up space for no reason. When they are no longer useful, they should be taken care of the right way. Employees should have access to a shredder and recycling bin to dispose of these documents to ensure they are only filing what is essential. There should be a process for file review, archiving, and destruction. Create folders labeled for completed projects, and have a committee go through these files to decide whether to archive them digitally, keep a hard copy in storage, or dispose of them. This will be a major factor in the declutter of the office. Throwing out unnecessary papers will help declutter your office quickly and easily.
Make Filing Fun—
Filing isn’t the most fun activity, so you have to make the most out of it. Use color-coated folders for specific subjects so employees can easily find what they need. You can use label makers to make the folders look more uniform and organized. Using some color can not only make filing easy- it makes it better to look at too. When everything is orderly, people will feel inclined to use the filing system. This will prevent individuals from throwing their papers around the office. You can also reward individuals who are using the system. Start competitions to see who can stay the most organized, or reward the people who are making an effort with gift cards, food, etc.
Tackling the current filing situation in the office or creating a new one can seem like a long battle you prefer not to start. It takes some hard work, but if you follow these steps, you can be on the path to declutter your office.