Three Simple Filing Guidelines

Filing tips from the founder of “Get Organized Now!”

One of the most basic ways to find papers when you need them is to retrieve them from an effective filing system. A good filing system will allow you to find what you’re looking for in 10 seconds or less.

Here are three simple filing guidelines that can help:

1. Categorizing
A filing system is only effective, if you can find everything you need, when you need it–without a struggle. And all good filing systems have different categories of papers. Your papers are either going to fall into a MAIN category, or a SUB-category.

For example, a main category might be FINANCIAL. Some sub-categories within Financial, may be: –Savings Account –Checking Account –Money Market Account

In your filing cabinet, your main categories should always be hanging file folders with a labeled tab. Your sub-categories should be labeled manila file folders inside the appropriate main category hanging folder.

2. Basic Filing Systems
For the most part, people choose to use one, or a combination of, these basic filing systems:

  1. Alphabetical (A, B, C, D, etc.)
  2. Numerical (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.)
  3. Chronological (Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, etc.)

The one you use, depends on what you’re using it for. For example, if you need to keep files for all of your customers (or associates, friends, etc.), alphabetical by last name usually will work best.

For sequential case numbers or projects that are numbered, a numerical system would probably work best.

If it is necessary for you to find things by date, then chronological may be your choice.

Some people get really creative and use a combination of these systems. For example, you may want your main categories to be chronological, but the sub-categories inside to be alphabetical.

3. Labeling
If a file isn’t labeled properly, it’s not going to be quick and easy to find:

  • Always write your subject on the tab of the file folder, close to the top of the tab, so you can easily see it when you’re looking through your files.
  • Use a medium point, black marker to label your files. Print; don’t use script.
  • Use as few words as possible on the tab.
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