Documents can get a little out of hand in an office, particularly when people are constantly exchanging contracts and notices.
Although we’re living in a technological age, there are still times when only paper copies will cut it. So, what do we do with all the pages?
We asked Emma from Spacer for some tips and techniques for storing and filing away your office documents so they can be found and managed easily.
1. Re-Organise Your Workspace
This is the first and most important step to a more organised workplace. Take the time to go through your existing files and documents, and sort out which documents are important enough to be kept on file, and which ones need to be shredded.
Any duplicates can be thrown away, and anything you haven’t used in the last 6 months can be put into recycling. Be sure to clear out any drawers and filing cabinets so you can start from scratch and organise a system that works for everyone.
2. Get Filing
There’s good reason why filing cabinets are one of the most common forms of storage for documents, in the home and in the office.
Top tip: broad headings will help you decrease filing time. However, you might want to consider adding subheadings to the more generalised folders to prevent cluttering and allow for easy finds.
Find a retrieval system that suits all your colleagues, preventing jumbling or misplacement. To make things even easier, colour-coding can be applied to your filing system to add additional categorisation and divide up the documents within their broad categories.
3. Label Clearly
This is vital to keeping your filing system organised and free of accidental category mixing. Document folders can be labelled in order of topic and purpose. Dates are also good to include within the subcategories. Alphabetically ordering files is another popular way of organising documents.
While organising things alphabetically is a good idea, many organisers recommend keeping an index of all the document folder names, allowing you to keep track of added categories.
4. Add A Splash Of Colour
Applying a splash of colour to your filing system can brighten your filing room or cabinet. Make sure the folders and sections are bold, single colours so they’re easily distinguishable from each other.
Within each section, you might be able to use similar shades of colour for the subcategories so you don’t run out of colours to use within your filing system. When combined with labelling, colour-coding makes it easy to identify each section.
5. Sort Out Loose Documents
Some offices have baskets for documents that need to be filed or shredded. In order to keep on top of everything, it’s best to get onto these documents as soon as you can to avoid piling up.
Make sure you go through your ‘to-file’ basket carefully and filter out any documents you won’t need in the immediate future, as well as duplicates.
6. Keep Bulky Items Together
Rather than separating bulkier items such as plans or drawings into different categories, it’s often easier to place them together in their own folder or section. That way, they’re easier to access and find among the other plans or drawings that you’ve grouped together.
Within the section of bulkier items, you can group together the drawings/plans in accordance with the rest of your filing system.
7. Keep Filing Materials Close By
If you’ve got a pile of documents that you’re constantly adding to, it’s best to go through it immediately rather than allowing the pile to build up. In these cases, keeping filing materials on hand is a great way to stay on top of everything.
Leave a label-maker on your desk with spare label rolls, and keep empty manila folders handy for new file categories. Highlighters and coloured folders can also be kept nearby if you have a colour-coded filing system. Keeping filing materials in your line of sight is a great way to remove another reason for procrastination.
8. Use Storage Boxes
Documents build up over time and sometimes a filing room isn’t enough to store all your papers. To save room, you might look toward the good old-fashioned archive box.
Choose between classic cardboard and the more modern and sleek plastic storage containers. Your filing system can still be applied on a smaller scale to these boxes, just store them horizontally and label them accordingly.
9. Maintain Your System
Whether it be monthly or once every 6 months, it’s important to regularly go through your files and see what needs to be kept on hand and what can be disposed of. This way, you have more room for recent files.
Remember that duplicates should be shredded unless they’re needed. Keep the original document on file but make note of the copies being made of it.
10. Use A Digital Filing System
Now we live in a technological age, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually move all your documents to an online filing system. You can still keep hard copies, but moving to a digital filing system saves a lot of time and money. Documents are all in one place and can be accessed on nearly any computer or mobile device.
Be prepared for the scanning process of all your existing documents to take time. However, once it’s functioning, you will be able to share copies with whoever requires them. The filing process then becomes similar to paper – scanning the document, then sorting to the correct category.
If you need a physical space to store all your documents, there are local spaces you can use for your documents. Choose from thousands of spaces to find one that suits your needs and requirements for safe storing.
And if you’re running out of room for your paperwork? Check out our records management service for organised and convenient document storage.