Labeling Files: My Top 5 Tips

Have you ever had a pile of papers that defied being labeled? Or perhaps you’re worried that if you do file that important piece of paper, you’ll never find it again in your cavernous filing system. Yet some people seem to be able to put their hands on any piece of paper they are looking for within seconds. What are their secrets for labeling files?

Create one overall system and stick to it. If you forget what categories you have in your filing system, create an index so you can scan the index to file and find items.

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Organize Your Paperwork: Maintenance

Organize Your Paperwork: Maintenance

Now that you’ve got your filing system set up and your action items in their proper places, it’s time for maintenance. Some tips on maintaining your filing system:

Monthly Calendar
  • If you have temporary files, file them by month and year, which allows for quick archiving.
  • Purge your files regularly—I recommend at least annually.
  • File at least weekly, more often if you are a paper-intensive home.
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Organize Your Paperwork: Filing

Organize Your Paperwork: Filing

Filing paperwork is crucial because it allows you to find things quickly and easily. Here are some tips for creating a great filing system.

Naming Conventions

Having a standardized terminology for your files keeps search time to a minimum, with both digital and physical files. For physical files, use consistent dates and names. For digital files, include multiple search terms in your file name to allow for faster retrieval.

Paper Files: 5-20 Items Rule of Thumb

Use cascading hierarchies when creating your paper files. For instance, you could keep all your insurances together in one hanging folder and have the paperwork for the individual policies in separate interior folders.  

If you have fewer than five items in one category, that’s a sign that you could condense it with another. More than twenty items should be split up into subcategories. For instance, say you have files relating to places you want to travel to. If you only want to go to New Zealand and visit Lord of the Rings locations, you only need one folder. If you want to go to every state in the US and have paperwork about each state you want to visit, then a folder for each state will be helpful. This helps avoid overstuffed folders that are difficult to look through and avoids having unnecessary folders as well. Using labeling, color coding, or different locations for these categories makes them easy to see at a glance.

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Organize Your Desk: Tools and Supplies

Organize Your Desk: Tools and Supplies

We’ve discussed how to keep things off your desk, but what tools and supplies should you keep near? These are my suggestions:

Your favorite writing implement

Some people prefer a certain pen, or pencil, or fountain pen. If that’s you, make a space for it that is its home. Put it back as soon as you’re done with it and it will always be there when you need it. (P.S., secret – (whisper) that’s true of all your belongings.) In fact, keeping track of one pen is easier than keeping track of many. This is the secret to minimalism. Having only what you need is part of the secret to sustainability. Choosing to live more simply with less allows you to have favorites. It allows you to have better-quality things in your life that will last longer. Having less in your life makes it easier to get and stay organized and that allows you to have a certain peace in your life.

Printer/Scanner

It usually makes sense to put your printer/scanner on the dominant hand side of the desk. It’s easier to operate that way and if you have it just in reach, you still have space for project items in front of you. It’s also okay to place it slightly out of reach so that it gives you a break from sitting.

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Organize Your Desk: Optimum Desk Arrangement

Organize Your Desk: Optimum Desk Arrangement

Optimum desk arrangement not only makes work easier and more enjoyable, it also makes it better for your body. Too often, pain or discomfort can unconsciously distract you from your work. A well-thought-out arrangement of your accessories can make working easier and more efficient.

Ergonomic computer screen and keyboard setup

Keeping a straight spine helps with proper functioning of the body. A computer screen set up at the right height keeps your chin level with the floor, which also helps your posture. A keyboard at the right height helps avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.

If you’re working on a laptop, consider getting a stand for the laptop and an extra keyboard so you can position everything optimally. It’s also good to remember to get up from your chair at regular intervals; or consider a standing desk.

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Organize Your Desk: Mail and More

Organize Your Desk: Mail and More

In this post, we’re going to discuss how to organize mail, and some ideas for dealing with paperwork.

Incoming mail

Developing the habit of sorting and acting on incoming mail immediately dramatically reduces the amount of work it takes to manage your paperwork. Be brutal with the advertising that comes to your home. Unless you’re actually going to use something, not just think you might, recycle it immediately. Set aside a short time every day to manage your incoming mail. Depending on the volume of mail, you may want to take action on the incoming mail each day, or set aside some time each week to manage anything that has come up. Do not skip a day. Do not let it pile up again! It will become easier and easier to stay on top of it.

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