How to make filing simple

Published 12:58 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2012

By LISA PHILLIPS / Guest Columnist

As we work toward a greener lifestyle by reducing the amount of paper we create and keep, we still have things that require a simple filing system both at home and at the office. Below are some tips on how to organize your filing systems.

-Hanging file folders: Use these as dividers for broader categories with manila file folders labeled for sub-categories inside each hanging file. Hanging folders also eliminate slumping files and keep files from being hidden.

-Plastic index tab in front: We naturally think “front to back” so place the plastic tab in the front of the hanging file folder.

-Align tabs: Do not alternate the position of the index tabs. Align them down one side for faster visibility.

-Separate current and archives: Decide what files you absolutely need to keep, but not necessarily need to access. Box, label and store them in another area. These are your files for reference. Only keep current files at your desk, which are your active files.

-Consolidate: Use the hanging file folders as general headings to reduce the number of places you look for things.

-Save space: Avoid paper clips, rubber bands and binder clips inside folders. These take up valuable space. Instead, use a piece of colored paper between stacks to separate.

-File in front: File the most recent papers in the front of the folders. Again, follow the natural thought process of “front to back.”

-Consistent labeling: Have one person do the labeling. This eliminates one person labeling “car,” another person might label it “auto,” and another may make the label read “Honda.” Being able to locate a file is determined by how well it is labeled.

Make filing simple. Look at a piece of paper, determine if you need to keep it, and then physically place the paper in the appropriately labeled folder. That is the hardest part-physically putting it away. While technology is making our lives simpler, filing does not happen without physical effort. Think of how you will locate the paper when needed. Instead of “Where should I put this?” think, “Where will I look to find this?” Happy filing!

Lisa Phillips, owner of SimpleWorks,, 205.981.7733