Effective Filing and Document Management
A global survey conducted by IDC in 2012 found that document challenges accounted for a loss of 21.3 percent in business productivity* - which shows that whether working from the office or home, the benefits of maintaining an effective filing solution are clear.
While this specific survey was focussed on the IT sector, its observation rings true for all sectors – document management can significantly impact how you perform.
The Four C’s
There is essentially little difference between the digital and physical spaces - you use folders, establish a system that works for you, and leverage it. Follow these four C’s to stay organised whether using traditional or PC based filing methods.
Make sure that you are only keeping documents that are relevant. Remove any clutter, as even the best filing system in the world is of a waste of time if you are keeping unnecessary information.
Disposing of documents can be therapeutic. It allows you to see what you have achieved, to start with a fresh slate and cleanse in preparation for the days ahead.
We recommend spending approximately 30 minutes a week organising your documents to stay on top of content. Whether its deleting emails or something as simple as de-cluttering the office desk, make this a habit.
If you’re looking for one, our shredders provide the perfect solution to dispose of confidential waste securely, or our selection of waste paper bins are just the job to throw out any unwanted documents.
Establish a good filing system that works for you. There are numerous ways of filing - from colour coordination to numerical labelling. Whatever system is right for you ensure that it can aligned and is compatible with both IT and traditional filing in order to get in a habit of applying it cross-platform.
If your hard copies and current IT solution are not aligned, the disparity can cause confusion and lead to significant drops in productivity. Make it a priority to take that extra time in the week to coordinate filing solutions and encourage best practice.
Once the best way of filing work has been established, keeping consistency across the board and remembering to stick to your chosen system is tough especially under heavy workloads.
To get better at managing files, we recommend making it a habit to use your chosen organisational system in other aspects of your life.
If you use colour at the office, bring that practice into your home – organise your movies or music in the same way. Surround yourself with best practice until it becomes second nature.
When filing with a PC, keep it simple. Try not to go more than three levels down if possible (e.g. category folder, subfolder, and subfolder). Overcomplicated filing systems have been proven to reduce the productivity of workers, and time is wasted trying to find documents.
- A folder and a several plastic pockets or file dividers work well for suspension filing; there’s no reason why this simplicity can’t be transferred online.
- If you make filing easy, you’ll have more time getting on with the job in hand.
- If you are unsure what accessories to use for traditional paper filing, if nothing else, choose plastic pockets.
If you already have an established filing system, try to avoid overfilling files when using filing cabinets. Overfilling suspension files can lead to any document management system being reduced to nothing more than a pile of papers on the floor.
Ongoing work vs. finished jobs
Finally, an obvious but often overlooked point. Remember to make a clear distinction between files and folders which contain work in progress and work completed.
This distinction allows you to address the task in hand without worrying about irrelevant documents getting in the way. Not only does this help you put your hand on the email or paper you want first time, but boosts morale by letting you see just how much you have achieved.