How to Organize Office Files & Folders

Designate your desk as a work area only; clear away clutter after each day.
Designate your desk as a work area only; clear away clutter after each day. (Image: at the office image by Pix by Marti from <a href=''></a>)

If you find yourself spending hours looking for a certain document or file, it may be time to overhaul your office's organizational system. If you have many files and folders, it may take some time to go through and organize them all. However, in the end it will be well worth it, because you will know exactly where to find everything. If you feel overwhelmed tackling the entire office at once, try going through just one area a day until you're finished.

Things You'll Need

  • Inbox/outbox
  • Files
  • Folders
  • Labels
  • Filing cabinet/filing box

Place an inbox and outbox on one corner of your desk. Keep all outgoing bills, notices and other items to be mailed or distributed in the outbox. Dispatch these items daily. Place incoming files, documents and mail in the inbox. Also, daily act upon or file these items; thus, they will not become clutter.

Create categories for your files and folders. These will vary, depending upon your type of business. Some categories may have obvious labels, like clients, tax information, vendors and upcoming projects. Focus on classifying all your documents into these large categories.

Break up the large categories into smaller subcategories, if applicable. For example, if your business has clients, create one folder for each client. If a client's documents are too numerous to fit into one folder, break up this category even further. Separate the client's file into different folders for different types of documents.

Label all your files. CNN Money recommends labeling files according to how you will likely search for them. For example, rather than labeling an obscure file “Form 27G-28A,” label it “Invoices” or a similar applicable category. This facilitates finding documents quickly.

Place all your documents in a filing cabinet, filing box or similar receptacle. If you have many files, keep the ones you use most often next to your desk. If you run out of office space, keep files you may only use once per year in a separate closet storage compartment or in another room entirely.

Keep a separate pile of documents designated for trash as you sort through your files. Timely shredding old and irrelevant documents is the key to maintaining an organized office. If you are unsure whether you can dispose of a document, designate one folder for possible trash and keep the document filed there until you can shred.

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