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Time Management Tips - How to Have a Filing System That Works


Recently I was working with a new client who had invested hundreds of dollars for a records management organisation to set up a filing system for his business.

The system looked impressive. The only problem was it didn't work! It had been set up in a very complicated manner. The headings were so detailed that a master sheet with a myriad of categories had to be referred to before information could be filed or retrieved.

The system was far too complex for their specific needs.

Have you ever had that experience where a filing system had been set up for you and/or your department/business and you couldn't find or file paperwork easily? How much time have you wasted looking for information? Time management is about managing your time. Spending precious time looking for paperwork is a great way to use up even more of your time.

Did you know that The Wall Street Journal once reported in a survey they had done that the average white collar worker spends 6 weeks a year looking for paperwork? If you're serious about your time management, then having a filing system where you can easily file and find your work is very important.

How Do You Know You Need a New Filing System?

When it takes you longer than a couple of minutes to find something.

When you run out of floor space because there are too many piles of paperwork on the floor.

When colleagues or clients ask you for information and you frequently say, " Can I get back to you later because I'll have to find it!"

When you catch yourself saying several times a day "I know it's here. somewhere".

When the piles of paper on your desk are taller than you are.

Filing Basics

Clean out all old or irrelevant information.

Write down what types of information you need to keep.

Categories which may emerge include:


  • Advertising

  • Bank

  • Budget

  • Clients

  • Equipment

  • Insurance

  • Resources

  • Staff

  • Suppliers

  • Training


If required, sub-categories can be made:


  • Advertising


    • Radio

    • TV



  • Bank


    • Commonwealth

    • Westpac



  • Budget


    • 2001/2002

    • 2002/2003



  • Clients


    • A separate file for each client



  • Equipment


    • Computers

    • Faxes



  • Insurance


    • Building/Contents

    • Vehicles



  • Resources


    • Newsletters

    • Trade Journals



  • Staff


    • A separate file for each person

    • Resumes



  • Suppliers


    • A separate file for each supplier



  • Training


    • General

    • Files for specific areas ie. Time Management, Work/Life Balance



Depending on your situation a whole drawer/s of a filing cabinet may be required to house some of these categories ie. Clients, Suppliers, Staff.

The Final Word

When you can file your paperwork quickly and retrieve it easily, you know you've got a system that works well for you.

As part of your time management, being confident in having systems that are effective and take little time to use, will make your life so much easier.

It's always the little things that make such a huge difference.

More details regarding the setting up of a successful filing system are available in my manual "How to Gain An Extra Hour in Your Day" and Get Organised-Get a LIFE! Book. (See http://www.office-organiser.com.au)

Lorraine Pirihi is Australia's Personal Productivity Specialist and Leading Life Coach. Her business The Office Organiser specialises in showing small business owners and managers, how to get organised at work so they can have a life! Lorraine is also a dynamic speaker and has produced many products including "How to Survive and Thrive at Work!"

To subscribe to her free ezine visit http://www.office-organiser.com.au

This article may be reproduced providing it is published in it's entirety, including the author's bio and all links. For further information please contact Lorraine Pirihi.


lorraine@office-organiser.com.au

Lorraine Pirihi