An orderly business is an effective business, and an effective business is a profitable business. From small independent companies to global giants, a properly arranged filing cabinet is integral to any firm which prides itself on being professional, organized and, most importantly, successful.

Are Filing Cabinets Still Important?

In the digital age, where computers are capable of storing vast quantities of files that a warehouse full of filing cabinets couldn't contain, many people consider filing cabinets redundant. The opposite is in fact true. As any business is aware, paperwork is still of fundamental importance on a daily basis. Accounts, invoices, statements, letters and other documents of note which need to be preserved in physical form require a place where they can be both secure and easily accessible.

Making Your Filing Cabinet Work for You

Before you can arrange your filing cabinet, you need to label your files in a uniform manner. Once you have clearly labeled your files, either with the names of categories or sub-categories, place them in the cabinet in alphabetical order. Starting with the letter "A," files should be placed from front to back in each drawer and run from top to bottom of the cabinet. Put tabs on the files so you have an easy view of what is where and the papers inside the file are protected from damage. With any new filing cabinet, leave at least 50 percent of the space for new files. Remember, additional files will be placed where the alphabet dictates and not necessarily near the end. For example, if your filing cabinet has four drawers, do not make the mistake of filling the first two completely. Instead fill all four drawers and leave a little space in each. As a rule, filing cabinets should always have about 10 percent of their capacity left unused because tightly packed files are hard to access and can get damaged.

Maintain Order

A filing cabinet system that works effectively will not remain that way for long if people using it fail to adhere to a few basic rules. If anyone removes a file, ensure the person puts it back in the correct place in a timely manner, otherwise your whole system will be thrown into chaos. Additionally, if an employee takes a file out for a prolonged period, he should leave a note about who's got it and for how long to avoid confusion. Some files will contain confidential information, so always ensure you have a secure system in place for sensitive files.

As Easy as ABC

An alphabetic filing system is a tried and tested format that has been used by millions of companies worldwide. It optimizes productivity, maximizes space and enhances efficiency. Do not make the mistake of stuffing the paperwork you "might need someday" into boxes that can easily get mislaid or lost. With a properly arranged filing cabinet, your days of frantically rummaging through drawers and folders for that all-important piece of paper can be safely filed under "D" -- for done!