Get Organized: What Can it Hurt?
How long has your "to file" pile been sitting there, calling out for attention? Are the items at the bottom old enough to be considered archives? Have you needed something that you could not put your hands on quickly? Setting up and maintaining your personal files is the cornerstone to getting organized. It is also the area where it is the most tempting to throw up your hands in frustration.
Common Filing Mistakes
Do any of these sound familiar?
Your Personal Files
Information retrieval is a key component to peace of mind. Your filing system should be simple, easy and manageable. Consider your major areas of responsibility. Although you probably wear different hats, most jobs have an administrative element as well as a project component.
Start by creating working project files. They may be client or customer files—key projects, committees or contracts. If you are a recruiter, you may have a group of resume submittals and open requisitions. Your other main category will contain your ongoing operational files which deal with administrative activities. These can include budget, newsletters, travel, vendors, staff meetings. If you have a third component to your job, create a section for those as well. The goal is to have a few, hopefully not more than four broad areas. Each section represents a logical division and should contain a number of individual files.
Principle 1: File papers in the broadest possible category. Thick files are easier to deal with than thin. Consolidate all related materials under the most general category that is practical.
Principle 2: Head files with a noun. To help make Principle #1 easier, find a key subject area and use that to label the file. Avoid labeling a file with a number, date or adjective. A more effective label than "How to negotiate contracts" is "contract negotiation."
Principle 3: After dividing files into broad areas, group each subject area together. Then alphabetize within each grouping. That will make retrieval smooth and easy.
Principle 4: File articles by the subject they discuss. When you tear out or copy interesting information, place that with related materials according to how you use it, not where you found it. A resource file items titled "articles" is not helpful.
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