Office Organization: How to File [Part One]


When office personnel were asked which task they dislike the most, filing came in as their number one least favorite chore. While filing may not be an exciting or fun office organization function, but it is a necessary task for running an office or household efficiently.

But, hate it or not, filing documents, receipts, and invoices must be addressed in one way or another. So, let’s review how to file with four simple solutions that can make the process simpler and avoid paper pile-ups.

(Note: Although I am a strong supporter of scanning whenever possible to eliminate paper storage we cannot ignore that even the most “paperless” office still will house some files and records that may be neither convenient nor appropriate for a computer or cloud-based scanning solution.)

Shred and recycle aggressively. The first step to office organization is to ask the question, “Does this document need to be filed?” Much of what comes to us by mail can go directly into the shredder. At the time, you open and read your mail, decide whether you’ll need that piece of paper in six months or a year. Be very cautious not to save or file something that you probably won’t need to reference again. If you need to find this information again, can you locate it without much difficulty? Does it contain information you can live without? If the answer to both questions is yes, then don’t set it aside for filing – instead trash or shred immediately.

Map it out before you begin setting up your files. Thinking through office organization with the logic of what you want to store and where you want to store it is a crucial step at the beginning of the process. Write your goals on paper (or type on your computer) so you can review, evaluate, and fine-tune how your new filing system will be configured. Consider what you will place in a particular file drawer or bin, and which records should be grouped together in a particular sequence. I recommend doing this in the form of an outline and creating main categories, which will be your hanging file folders, and sub-categories, which will be interior file folders. This will become your Master File and it will also prove helpful in planning for the purchase of your filing supplies.

Use broad filing categories. Don’t create a new file folder for every type of paper that crosses your desk. Too many file folders are not efficient or necessary. Not only is it tiresome and time-consuming to search through all those folders, there is also a far greater chance of misplacing something by using several different files than one for the entire category.

Keep your most frequently used files close and convenient. I am often surprised when I work with people who don’t consider how much time they spend going back and forth to find files; files housed far from their desk or workstation wastes time for retrieval. When thinking about office organization, take into consideration your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly needs. Desktop File Boxes are a great way to add some convenient file storage to a desk, bookshelf, or cart.

Hopefully, these four tips will help you better organize your filing and understand the basics to get started and staying organized. Stay tuned for more filing strategies.