I consider that your filing system is up-to-date if you are able to find any document in less than 50 seconds. Seem impossible? This is because you are lacking a few tips and tricks. Here they are
What you need
You will need
- 3 letter trays
- a notebook or a task manager on your computer and/or smartphone
- a diary
- simple cardboard folders
- magazine holders (which will allow you to store documents vertically)
The paper system
Place the three letter trays on your desk (or daily-use dining room table).
AS soon as you have opened your letter, discard anything you can (adverts and envelopes).
Place the rest in tray N°1 (Entry).
At a time of your choosing (approx. twice a week), sort through each document and ask yourself what you want to do with it.
- Is any action required? E.g.: call, check, request, pay? In this case, note the action to be taken in your notebook and/or your task manager so you don’t forget it then place the document in tray N° 2 (Action) until you can deal with it.
- Should this paper simply be filed? You can choose to file it immediately or at the end of the week all at once with the others in the same status.
- This document informs you that you are waiting for a response (acknowledgement of receipt for something you have sent, purchase order you are waiting to be delivered, etc)? Place it in tray N° 3 (Awaiting a response)
- Do not allow yourself to move to the next document until you have decided what to do with the one in your hand.
- Take the action on the list in your notebook/task manager.
Different types of documents
- Projects: these are documents related to a topic in progress. For example, you can place in one of the cardboard folders with the title “Water leaks” all documents relating to this event until it is completely resolved. These project folders should be within reach.
- Reference documents: all adults in the house must know where they are kept. These are important documents such as life insurance contracts, marriage documents, employment documents, title deeds, divorce rulings, passports, certificates, etc. Store them in a magazine holder or a special tray.
- The Reserve: anything you keep because you think you may need it one day. This is a wide category because, depending on what it is about, it can include cookery books, payslips, water/electricity bills, etc, insurance certificates, photo albums, mail order catalogues, etc. Of course, the challenge of this category is knowing where to place the documents to find them quickly.
The art of filing When…?
There is a key question that will help you find the find place for each document. When you want to file a document, ask yourself “What will I need it for?”
If you can answer, you have the name of the file or the folder and a logical way to find it later.
However, if you cannot answer this question, you can discard the document otherwise you risk placing it somewhere and never being able to find it again!
No useless perfectionism
When it comes to filing, it is best to have broader categories rather than too much enthusiasm. Similarly, don’t put too much focus on putting subfolders in cardboard folders. Simply place the latter (each with a clear name) in the magazine holders. You will have less to do. And less to do means that the filing is easier and faster.
Don’t keep documents for longer than necessary. Your government’s informative websites will inform you of the legal conservation period for important documents.
An annual purge is highly recommended for all types of documents: this avoids overflow.
Learn more: www.sorganiser-facile.com