Filing System for Success

One of the challenges that all business owners face is organization. With Organize Your Files week this month I wanted to share some insights to organizing your files and keeping things as straight as possible to make it as easy as possible to run your business, keep track of your finances and clients and work and get back to the good parts of running your business as quickly as possible.

Organization starts with a plan. Do you have a plan for what you do with documents you download, print or receive in the mail (virtual or physical)? If you don’t have standard operating procedures for how you deal with your materials pretty quickly you’ll become overwhelmed by them and it will be very difficult to catch up.

Once you’ve got a plan you have to consistently implement the plan. Plans, ideas and concepts are all great, but implementation is the key to success, especially when it comes to organization. Some things you can get away with organizing on a weekly or monthly basis, other things should be organized on a daily basis. Knowing the volume of different types of information and documents in your business will allow you to come up with an appropriate schedule.

So how do we get organized? You may want to create inboxes, both physical and virtual, where you quickly categorize things to be dealt with all at one point in time during the day or week, or it may work better for you if you file things as they come in. Personally I find filing as things come in a distraction and interruption to my work, so I have boxes (physical and virtual) that I stick stuff in to be filed at the end of the day/week/month, for example paid bills, bills to pay, items to shred, things to keep for ideas or clients, and things that need to be done. It takes seconds to put things in a temporary home and that allows me to get back to work quickly and take care of properly filing when I’m not needed with clients or during non-traditional work hours.

The next step is more permanently addressing things.  Have overall categories and more specific folders within the categories to organize things as is most appropriate.  Things that you have a large volume of files for should have many more specific folders to help you manage the clutter like leadership, marketing, and legal/taxes, while things like potential art and decorations for your offices will have a one general folder and no sub-folders since you won’t access it as often or have as much to put in it.

Once you’ve got your filing system set up you have to implement and keep up with the filing.  This is where the specific folders make things much easier for both filing and finding in the future because you won’t have to search for things or go through files of papers before finding things because you’ve got a great system.  If your organization system needs work make time for it this week. You’ll be glad you did in the future.

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