How to Create a Kick-Ass Filing System
I know what you’re thinking. How can the words ‘Kick Ass’ and ‘Filing’ be in the same sentence? Let me enlighten you.
Filing is probably one of the least popular of the office admin processes, along with its close friends, Data Entry and Archiving. But, it is a necessary evil and if you have an efficient filing system in place, it will take a giant load off you when you are managing your business admin.
If everything has a place that makes sense, it helps everything around it make sense too.
So, let’s think about the things you need to get your kick-ass filing system going. And because everybody loves a good list, I’ve broken my tips down into some handy hints.
Always start with groups. Break down your data into sections, and then sub-sections from there. You might have one main group of Finance, and then inside it, Accounts, HMRC, etc. You could have a Clients group and then a file for each client inside, with each of those having their own sub-folders.
Think about the information and data you need to file and how it would most sensibly group together. It always goes back to that one golden rule – it has to make sense, or it won’t help you.
Choose a consistent naming system for all of your files. It could be something as simple as client/document/date or it could be more complex. A good naming system will allow you to locate files quickly and if you keep an index of the files you have – nothing fancy, a simple Word list will do, it will help you as well.
How many times have you saved an email straight into your files and then been presented with the dreaded error message when you come to open it again and your computer tells you it can no longer be accessed? I’ve been there, I know the pain.
You need to make sure that every file you save can be opened again. If this means you need to convert emails into pdf, do it. And then test it. There is no point in having a file you cannot open.
Alas, I don’t mean swimming. I mean synchronising your systems. For your filing system to work, it should be mirrored across all the systems in which you store data. Your computer hard drive, your cloud storage, your email inbox. Every list of your data should be set up in the same way.
A note about GDPR
Whilst these tips are about setting up your filing system, you need to ensure that the management and maintenance of it, and how you look after data, follows the General Data Protection Regulation.
If you are not familiar with the GDPR, make yourself a cuppa and head over the ICO website here.
These tips should help you on your way to a lovely, shiny and new filing system. Something less to worry about in these troubling times.
Paper piles image – Wesley Tingey on Unsplash