How to Do Office Filing

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A business may deal with hundreds or thousands of files each year. Organization eliminates that harried, stressed feeling you get while searching for something important. The right filing system can help your business run more smoothly and effectively.

Analyze your files. Is it best to sort them by client last name, by project or chronologically? Choose the characteristics you will use while searching for a file.

Label your files clearly. Separate the smaller files into categories in hanging folder. For instance, "July 2008" can have its own labeled hanging folder, and you can insert all contracts or folders from that month into the hanging folder.

Separate files into different filing cabinets. Have one cabinet for administrative files, such as ordering supplies, payroll information and resumes; another cabinet for client files with completed contracts and payment and project information; and any other type your business needs. Label the cabinets clearly.

Test your filing system before presenting it to your co-workers. Be sure you can find everything easily and that the way you've organized things makes sense. If you've organized everything chronologically, but the test shows alphabetically makes more sense, change your system.

Call a short meeting and explain the filing system. Be sure everyone understands how the system works and the importance of following the system.

Decide who will do the filing. You can delegate filing to one person, or let each worker do her own filing. Employees may have a filing cabinet in their offices, but you still need a central filing system, ideally with one person in charge.

File important documents daily. Routine filing helps you stay organized and keeps filing from becoming a bigger task than it needs to be. Use filing trays in each office, and make sure the trays are emptied at the end of every work day.

Assess the filing system every six to 12 months. Purge outdated material from your system.