Filing

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  • Labels in a pinch - If your labelmaker is not on hand, but you have a folder in need of a label right now, there's nothing as handy as a post-it note. Just place the sticky part where the label would go, and you're good to go. --rdonoghue 11:49, 21 Mar 2005 (EST)
  • Labeling and organizing your files: Avery has a section of their site devoted to such ideas. Under headings such as Archiving, Organizing and Labeling, Mobile Office and Tax Organization, you can choose subject-related tips and ideas. --Carla 09:58, 9 January 2006 (EST)
  • Sometimes, you don't want to go through the hassle of finding a file's alphabetical location after you've taken it out to file something or for reference. Try using a different coloured folder or piece of card to mark its place. --Abizer 18:33, 21 Mar 2005 (EST)
    • I just set the folder behind the one I removed askew. --Victor 10:53, 23 Mar 2005 (EST)
  • If you use hanging folders with insert folders for reference materials, keep a stack of coloured ordner bookmark cards (or some other card that would stick out of the folder) that you can put in the hanging folder as placeholder when you take the insert with you or lend it to someone (like your accountant or someone that needs it for a delegated tasks). -- Wafel 24 Mar 05
    • Office supply stores sell colored vinyl "out guides" to mark the places of removed file folders. Out guides are tabbed, and have a pocket for charge-out tickets and a pouch to hold papers to go into the file folder when it's returned, useful features when there are multiple users of the same documents.-- GH 17 Apr 2005
  • Use only 1/3 cut file folders, with all tabs on one side (right or left). Example of use - if your folders have tabs on the left, you can create a folder with the tab on the right by reversing the folder and using the "back side". You can also re-use every folder easily by reversing it. Kevin Hayes 20:49, 4 Apr 2005 (EDT) (Also works with 1/2 cut folders, only no need to buy only one tab.)
    • If you have to add or delete file folders, it is best to file with the tabs in single-file. Using 1/3 center cut tabs will let you reverse and rename a folder and file it back single-file. --GH 17 Apr 05 (Again, also works with 1/2 cut folders, mixed box)
  • If you label your files, and have a printer at your desk, keep a blank sheet of Avery file labels at your desk (mine's in the front of my tickler file hanger) and create a Word file called Labels.doc on your computer desktop. Every time you need to create a label, open the Word doc, erase the text in the last label space, move the cursor down a row and type in the new file label. Put the label sheet in the printer, print out the single label, and save the Word doc with the last label position. Works much faster and is less conspicuous than having a label-maker at your desk. --Egoodwin 00:09, 25 Mar 2005 (EST)
    • Be careful, though. If the other labels on the sheet start to look like they are peeling off after a few trips through the printer, one or more can end up wrapped around the print head or laser drum, leading to no end of headaches. These are very difficult to remove and may require you to replace the laser cartridge if it decides to stick there. Avery recommends you never re-run a sheet of labels, but being aware should prevent any major issues.
      • You don't need to worry as much if you're using an inkjet printer.
    • I've found that a laser printer will tend to make the labels you haven't used darken with each pass. I've taken to using the post-it hack mentioned earlier, or just hand-writing on the folder, then covering my handwriting with the label once I print it. Put a "Print File Labels" note in your tickler.
  • If you must use color-coding, keep it really simple. Otherwise you might spend too much time keeping the colors straight or find yourself missing a color when you need it. Kevin Hayes 20:49, 4 Apr 2005 (EDT)
  • Consider using lateral files. Benefits - you can use them while sitting in a chair (just roll over to them); you can put useful things on top the cabinet (two-drawer cabinet) such as printers, hot files, etc.; they hold a lot of files in a fairly small space. Kevin Hayes 20:49, 4 Apr 2005 (EDT)
  • The simplest filing system is the one I use following this principle: Where would I look for it? - and if there are several places, just put a link in with an index card on the file (e.g. one reads "c.f. xxxx file"). I always file by category, so if you know something is to do with Finance then it will be in drawer 2, if it's to do with personal files it's in the confidential drawer. Cuts down on where you have to look if you've forgotten where it was!
    • Another really useful filing tip is to have the same filing system electronically and paper. E.g. if you have all your invoices in the Finance drawer, then have a finances folder on your hard drive with an invoices sub-folder. --Sophia 17:23, 17 Apr 2005 (EDT)
  • Remember to keep a list of your files so that you know what you already have before creating another file. This is particularly useful if you file things alphabetically as it can be easy to accidentally create duplicates that way.
    • Also keep a list of what is in the file stapled to the front cover - can save you having to look through to see if that letter from Jan 03 is in there or not. --Sophia 17:23, 17 Apr 2005 (EDT)
  • Choose the type of file by how often you access it. Ring-binders for frequent access with taking things out and putting them in in any order. Plain folders with those two wires coming out for things you file with newest on top. And slide in wallets for everything else that goes on your desk or intray so it doesn't take up too much room. Plastic A4 folders which are open on two sides are your friend! You can stick plain labels on the front and remove them quite easily, and also see immediately what's in there if you just want to highlight the name of the meeting or client for quick reference. All my project files are card slide in wallets (open on one side) with individual sub-files in plastic wallets which then go in the bottom in-tray. Sorry, a but off-topic (feel free to put in a better place if necessary!) --Sophia 17:23, 17 Apr 2005 (EDT)
  • Hanging folders are more trouble and bulk than they're worth. Plain manila folders in a file drawer stand up just fine and decrease the overhead of adding new folders. To make the first and last folders easier to grab, tape a finger-width spacer block (I use 3 3.5-inch disks) to the inside center of the front of the cabinet and the folder-facing side of the movable back plate. --JeffY 21:46, 3 May 2005 (EDT)
  • Since folders can often belong in several categories (in my mind at least) and alphabetization only works if you can remember what you actually called the file, it can often be difficult to find files in a "category" system or "alphabetic" system. So what I've done is simply converted to a sequential numbering system. If there's a new file, it just gets the next number in the sequence and gets put behind the last file in the drawer. I also put a name on the file for convenience. Then...and here's the trick...I keep a word document with a list of the file numbers with each file number followed by a description of what's in that file. Now, if I'm looking for something, I just open up the document and then do a text search on the subject of the file I'm looking for. I normally find the file number immediately and with never more than 3 or 4 searches. Added advantage is that you can keep electronic documents associated with the file in folders on your computer. Each paper folder has a computer folder with the same number. (Can do this with emails related to the file too)
  • I've looked for a good economical solution to store plain manila folders in. Unfortunately, most of the relatively inexpensive plastic file boxes are design specifically to accommodate hanging folders. I finally figured a way around this: book ends. This evening I went to the local office supply store and bought a couple of large Rubbermaid file boxes, and 2 cork-bottom book ends. The book ends stay very solidly in place, even when the box is moved around, and the folders are kept upright when I go to find something. Until I can afford a more traditional filing cabinet, I think this is a very workable solution. --Bytheway 02:30, 28 Aug 2005 (EDT)
    • You can also use box-bottom folders (expandable 3- or 4-inch) to keep your files upright. These work in long drawers, as well as short ones. AlanHamilton 2005-08-30.02:00:00-0500
    • I wanted to move to a system without hanging folders, but my file cabinet doesn't have a backplate. Book ends are a great idea.
  • Hanging folders take up about 1/3 of the space in a filing system. By eliminating the hanging folders, you can store half again as many files in the same space. AlanHamilton 2005-08-30.02:00:00-0500

[edit] sorting orders

  • Alphabetical -- write on the tab of the file what it's about, then file strictly alphabetically by what's on the tabs. (David Allen suggests this method in Getting Things Done)
  • Numeric (with index) -- this method can be used to find anything within a large set of information, but for smaller systems it tends to add only more time. The numeric index can work with systems that are too large to handle alphabetical filing well.
  • Chronological -- write a unique number on the tab of the file (the next sequential number, or today's date 2006-01-30 followed by the number of folders created so far today). Keep a list elsewhere documenting what sorts of things go into which folder. Folders are sorted in the order created by simply adding new stuff to the end. (Stuff you write in a journal, blog, Moleskine, or other pre-bound book works like this)
  • The Noguchi Filing System -- this system is based on the idea that it will be easier to remember when you last used something rather than what name it was filed under. Documents are mixed combined within files based on their last access date. When papers are retrieved, they go into a new file folder located at the front of the system.

Any other useful methods ?

Some people sort books by size. Big, heavy books go on the bottom shelves. Small, lighter books go on the upper shelves (which are usually built closer together). Makes it harder to find stuff, though.

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