Tips for Keeping Files Organized
Running a successful business depends on having financial documents and other vital documents cleanly organized. You need to develop a system that is easy to access the forms when you need them. Some ways to create a system that can streamline the documents in your business include:
Purge What You Don’t Need
Everyone has more papers than they need. The first step to organizing anything is to get rid of the items that serve no purpose. Signs that you are victim to this organizational nightmare include having filing drawers that are overflowing and large, unfiled stacks of paper. Get rid of what you don’t need first. Shred credit card offers and any unneeded documents that identify your business. Throw away junk mail. Remove personal papers from business space.
Make New Piles
Once you have eliminated what you don’t need, you can begin to organize the documents that are important to your business. Go through each piece of paper and begin making piles for the different needs of your business. You likely have vendor receipts, customer receipts, contracts, legal documents, business ownership documents and other important documents on hand.
Now that you have your categories straightened out, you can begin sifting through your documents and filing them. Create a computer-generated label for each file and place documents in manila or color-coded folders.
Consider the best method of organizing your files. Alphabetical listing works wonders for many business owners. If you go this route, consider creating an electronic and hard-copy document that provides a table of contents so that you can remember how you organized something. Color coding works for many business owners. This method can easily draw your eye to accounts receivable or payable.
Invest in Equipment
No matter how organized you are, your system will fail if you do not have a safe place to store everything. Consider purchasing filing cabinets that can hold all of your folders in a hanging system. Don’t scrimp by buying a cheap cabinet that will need to be quickly replaced. Fireproof cabinets are a good investment that saves vital documents from heat, flames and fire. Consider purchasing used furniture from a furniture buy-back outlet to save money.
Keep Supplies on Hand
It is easy to start to get disorganized when you run out of supplies, such as folders or labels. Keep a ready stock of these items on hand so that you don’t fall behind on your paperwork.
File Routinely and Immediately
Many people use an in-box system to collect papers. This can work as long as you quickly and routinely file documents as they come in. Filing only takes a few seconds and can help prevent the need to take substantial breaks to catch up on paperwork. You may also want to schedule a time each week to finish up this task.
Use Additional Organizing Methods
You may need some paperwork to be out and available so that you can easily access it. Consider making additional categories for these purposes. Use wire baskets for a to do, to pay, to file and to review pile. Place the baskets on top of each other and do not let them pile up. Only keep a week’s worth of documents out for this purpose.
Consider ways to reduce paperwork so that you can easily maintain your system. Scan documents and store the electronic file for documents that you do not need the paper for. Keep files online rather than printing them. Continue to review your needs and re-organize documents as needed.
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