File Organization Tips

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An organized filing system can be an invaluable guide, saving you from chaos and confusion. It can be inside your home or office, or for personal or business reasons. Regardless of the type of filing system you have, organization is the key to maintaining order.

Paper Files

Use short headings to label your file. For example, a label such as "Records of Bank Reconciliations for Period Ending 12/31/09" is too wordy. Instead say "Bank Reconciliations 2009", and file the memos and the bank reconciliations under it. If you have several memos and bank reconciliations for the year, create subcategories, separating each file by month. Therefore you would label each file as follows: "Bank Reconciliation, January 2009," "Bank Reconciliation, February 2009," "Bank Reconciliation, March 2009." Follow this pattern through year end.

Color code your files. For example, if you have a Health category that encompasses the entire filing drawer, use red labels to symbolize that particular category. All the hanging folders (subcategories) inside that drawer would have a red label. You will be able to access your files more quickly if you know which color belongs to which category.

If you are not very good at keeping a personal filing system, consider signing up for online banking. All you have to do is set up your payments to recur at a set time. Follow the instructions as stated by your bank online to set up online banking. This minimizes record keeping and eliminates a paper trail, which could lead to identity theft.

Computer Files

For computer files, create folders on the drive you want them to appear. For example, you may have several Microsoft Word documents on Cooking Recipes, which fall under three major headings: Chicken, Soups and Desserts. Create a folder labeled Cooking Recipes under Documents. Under Cooking Recipes, create three folders--Chicken, Soups and Desserts. Place all the information pertaining to chicken recipes under the folder you created for chicken, keeping your main heading as Cooking Recipes. Follow this procedure for soups and desserts.

Though you can file your files on whichever drive you prefer, Documents is highly recommended because you can easily locate your files and back them up. Plus you can keep your document files separate from program files, minimizing the risk of your accidentally deleting your documents due to an installation or program upgrade.

Discarding Files

Throw away or delete all unwanted files. Keeping unnecessary files only adds to your file volume, making it harder to find the ones you need. This is particularly true for e-mails. Do not allow your e-mail inbox to become deluged with unread e-mails, even if they are all junk emails. With this much volume, it can be easy to overlook new and important e-mails that are coming in. If you have old paper files that you may need in the future, file them in storage boxes.

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