· Tricia Tan  · 6 min read

Tips for Organizing an Office Filing System

​​Have you ever made someone wait as you combed through the stacks of paperwork on your desk in search of a crucial document?

Have you experienced difficulty meeting a deadline due to losing a critical computer file?

It’s crucial to maintain your documents so that they are accessible and organized whether you deal with paper documents, electronic files, or a combination of both.

Doing so may reduce your time spent hunting for things and ensure that you always have the necessary information.

Any firm that manages invoices, receipts, and other records, whether on paper or digitally, needs an efficient office filing system. Even for companies that don’t deal with a lot of paperwork, maintaining efficiency and organization will help keep things going smoothly.

Office file systems come in various shapes and sizes, from straightforward cabinet drawers to intricate collections of digital servers.

Knowing what files are most crucial, who requires access, and how they can be recovered quickly and effectively will help you design a system that works for you.

What is an office filing system?

The main component of an office’s record-keeping system is its file system.

On the other hand, filing entails maintaining paper documents systematically, openly, and effectively. In addition, employees can discover documents more quickly and readily thanks to an office filing system.

We now live in an era powered by the Internet; sometimes, the paperwork we deal with is electronic.

A file system helps handle the enormous amounts of user data created daily in a workplace. It involves updating data in addition to storing and retrieving it.

The mark of a sound office filing system is that everyone in the office can approach the categories that are appropriate for their purpose.

Why do you need an office filing system?

One of the most crucial things a small business should do for its financial health is the correct filing of receipts and invoices.

You want to avoid losing out on tax deductions because of lost receipts due to a nonexistent or disorganized filing system, which can add days of extra work during tax season.

Your claims may be rejected, and your tax return may be reassessed if you are ever the subject of an audit and cannot provide the required documentation in a timely manner.

Depending on your sector, you might need to preserve records for years to comply with state or federal standards.

Law firms must keep case files for three years. Accountants and tax preparation companies must keep tax returns on file for seven years.

Heavy record-keeping obligations apply to construction enterprises, medical facilities, educational institutions, and more.

You may only need to maintain track of payroll and financial records if your company is very straightforward, but you still need to be able to work quickly and effectively at your desk.

Organizing your filing system

It’s tempting to “simply put it away” in a pile on your desk or drawer when you receive a document from a colleague, vendor, or customer. You could even save it in your email inbox or downloads folder.

Such documents accumulate over time, creating clutter.

And the likelihood that you’ll ever have the time to go back and organize all that information decreases.

In the meantime, you can waste a lot of time looking for documents buried in the chaos.

So why not try a new strategy to ensure you always have confidence in finding things when you need them?

Give these tips a try:

Only save what’s important

Make it a point not to save everything that comes your way.

Look over the material quickly, and only keep a file if it is necessary for your business or is relevant to your work activity.

Too many pointless documents increase clutter and make it more difficult to find things later.

Use the same naming convention for all of your files and folders

Consider dividing the main folder into subfolders for clients, suppliers, and colleagues.

To make it clear what or who the folders are related to, use abbreviated names.

Even color coding can be used to make it simpler to distinguish between various folder categories.

Group related documents, no matter the type

Instead of having one folder for presentations for all projects, another folder for spreadsheets for all projects, and so on, place all reports, letters, presentation notes, spreadsheets, and graphics relating to a specific project in a single folder.

In this manner, you’ll locate papers for a particular project much more quickly.

Keep completed work apart from continuing activity

Some people prefer to keep current or ongoing work on their desk or computer desktop until a task is finished.

Once finished, they transfer it to the location where files belonging to the same category are kept. Move files you’re no longer working on into the folders where your finished work is kept regularly.

Avoid stuffing folders too full

If a folder has many files or subfolders in the primary folder, divide the files and folders into smaller groupings (subfolders or sub-subfolders).

Instead of having a long list of files, the goal is to organize each file into a logical folder or subfolder.

Sort papers according to date

Make sure the date of a document is apparent by underlining it, including it in the paper version, or adding it to the electronic version’s title.

Doing so allows you to arrange your papers in chronological order without having to open each one individually. And in the future, you’ll have an easier time finding them.

Digitize physical documents

This practice is helpful if you don’t have much space for storing paper documents, wish to archive documents without destroying them, need to share documents electronically, or want to increase the security of your information storage.

Use your best judgment in this situation because not all documents—such as legal contracts or ones with actual signatures—will be suitable.

Store your digital documents in one place

The goal is to have a central database or archive that most, if not everyone, in the team can access.

For your HR needs, for instance, organize information about your employees, departments, and locations in one user-friendly, centralized spot. Hezum does just that—it’s a coordinated, secure way to store data.

To summarize

You’ll probably benefit from implementing some of these file-management techniques and tailoring them to your needs even though the office filing system has no “one size fits all” method.

If you’re looking for an HR solution that does more than just help you organize your database, Hezum’s the one for you! Streamline onboarding and other HR services in this powerful all-in-one platform. Check out the website to learn more.

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