How to Set Up Your Home Office Filing System
If you work from your home, you know the importance of being able to locate a specific paper or file quickly and easily. Some people are intimidated by the idea of setting up a filing system, so they simply pile papers in various stacks and call it filing. A good filing system really doesn't take that long to set up, and can save you invaluable amounts of time in looking for things. In order to get started with your brand-new filing system, sit at your desk for a few minutes.
Consider the things you use the most which means they are the same things that should be within easy reach. For instance, most of us who are right-handed, use the top right-hand drawer for the things we use most often, such as paperclips, stapler, stamps, scissors, pens, and notepads. Your approach may be different, but the idea is to sit at your desk and reach for supplies, files, equipment. This will enable you to find the ideal spot for the specific items you find yourself reaching for often.
How Do You File?
Next you will want to consider the physical system that will work best for you. Does an alphabetical system work best for you and your particular business? Maybe a subject filing system makes more sense for you. Think about whether you search for things by looking for the client's name, or if you use a reference number or category when looking for files. Category filing could include things such as expenses, financial, marketing, etc. Typically, bookkeepers or others who work with many different clients find it easiest to have a client file set up by client name, and another file which is set up on a subject basis.
Does your business require that you access files daily, or do you get into them only weekly or less often? If you have certain files that you use on a daily basis you might want to keep them in a desktop file holder, or a smaller, two-drawer filing cabinet on one side or the other to your desk.
A larger, four-drawer file cabinet can hold the files you access less often. When you are purchasing a filing cabinet, buy one which is at least twice as big as you think you will need. This one step can significantly limit the number of times you have to spend your valuable time reorganizing your filing system.
Labeling Your Files
You need to be able to clearly read your file labels, and this will save you time in the long-run. You can either write directly on the file folder, or purchase file folder labels. Lots of companies who make labels also provide templates which integrate with your word processing software which means you can type your label headings directly into your computer, then print them off. Some people use different color labels for different categories, i.e. red for financial, blue for client files, green for information, etc. If you already have your file folders set up, you can still color-coordinate simply by using the colored dots on one side of the heading.
Hanging File Folders
Hanging file folders are almost an essential item when you are setting up your file system. They usually come with plastic label tabs, and come in colors or the standard army-green. Those who like color coordinating will use the colored hanging folders along with colored labels to keep everything nice and neat. You can either use plain manila file folders (least expensive) or the more expensive fancy decorated ones.
It's a good idea to keep your business files separate from your home files in the interest of being able to find things more quickly. Your personal file drawer will probably having banking, mortgage, bills, utilities, health, taxes, etc., while your business files will pertain directly to your work and your clients.
Keep it Neat
Once your filing system is set up and you are patting yourself on the back because it looks so neat and organized, remember that in order to keep it this neat, you should not let the filing pile up until it is an overwhelming job that nobody wants to tackle. Go through the mail and separate it each day into a basket of things to do right away, and another for reading later. At the end of each day, spend just five minutes filing things away. You will be glad you did when you walk into your home office the next morning and it is neat and organized, ready for the day.