Forget the paperless society. It’s not here yet, and chances are you have documents and receipts you need to file. The purpose of filing is to be able to retrieve said document at a moment’s notice. File at least once a week (hint: If you do it every day, it takes 3 minutes or less).
Have a dedicated in-box ONLY for paperwork that needs to be filed. Make yourself a nice cuppa — or a glassa — and file away. I turn on the TV to make it more interesting, then spread all of the filing on a table or desk, put it in order and file.
My high school had great business courses, and I took them all — including a 6-week filing course. We learned simple filing as well as library rules, etc. The filing itself becomes easy with just a few rules of alphabetical order.
However, it is my experience that some people don’t get the simple strategy and reason for filing: You file so that you can find. Years ago, I asked my new assistant of 6 months for some important documents needed for a meeting. She said “Jeesh…that’s going to take me hours to find.” She went on to explain, “You never ask me for anything you give me to file, so I’ve just been stacking them up in the file room.”
As small business owners, we sometimes let this crucial part of our business stack up. Filing is for that moment when you need the document or file. You don’t need anxiety before an important meeting or project.
Here is the fix: Schedule your filing for one day a week…same time, same day. You will adore me for this advice and name your children after me. Remember: File it so you can find it.
Here’s a 4-step method for starting and completing all of your paperwork filing: Put out all of your papers in stacks by alphabet grouping (ABCD….EFGH…IJKL…MNOP….etc.). Alphabetize each stack. Sort each type of paperwork (car payment, rent, etc.) by date order with the latest date on top. File in the appropriate folders. Now, go outside…read a magazine…drink some iced tea…and then get back to your listing!