Even though some offices have decided to go paperless, most still deal with paper. Computers have increased the amount of paper 100%. One of the biggest headaches for most of my clients is how to deal with incoming information whether it is in paper or electronic form.
The easiest way to create paper files is to start with five or six main categories. Some examples would be Clients, Vendors, Finance, Administrative or Operations, and Marketing. Make the names so different from each other so that it will be easy to file papers or find them when you are looking for them. The names will vary depending on your business. Use these names for hanging folders and put their names on the plastic tabs that come in the box of folders. You can decide to color-code your files, one color for each category. Beware that you need to always have extra colored folders so that you don’t substitute a color if you run out, thus destroying the color-coded system. I like to secure the tabs down the left side of the folders so that I can see all of the main categories in one line. Place the plastic tabs on the front of the hanging folder so that papers inside won’t eventually cover the title.
Next, use interior folders if you like or you can use only hanging folders for the subtopics under each main category. Some examples of subcategories are Banking, Credit Cards, Budget, Licenses, Forms, Marketing Plan, etc. Label each interior folder with its subcategory. You can stagger the folders or put them all in a straight line depending on your preference.
Files should be purged regularly. Set up a regular schedule for purging and put it into your calendar. Some people like to purge as they put new papers into the file. Others purge weekly, monthly, or yearly. A good time to purge old files is tax time when you are gathering information for your taxes.
One way to create electronic files is to use the iPEP system (Interactive Productive Environment Platform). It is a web-based document management system and collaborative tool. You can create electronic files and folders just as you do with Microsoft Word. I would suggest naming the electronic files the same way that you name paper files as far as setting up main categories and subcategories. Once you have created your files, you can search them by putting in one keyword into the search line.
With the iPEP platform you can sync your hard copy files with the electronic ones by inputting the names of the hard copy files into a folder on your workspace of the iPEP. Thus when you are looking for any file in your office, you can use one system to find them all.