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Don’t dread sorting your filing; embrace the chance to clear out the cupboards

Does the thought of sorting out your filing and updating your systems at work fill you with dread?

Most of us will try to keep on top of things one way or another, but we may have inherited a filing system from a predecessor which only seems to make a certain amount of sense. When you’re in a rush and there’s no obvious folder to use, a quick or rash decision on where to save a document can send it into a filing ‘black hole’, never to be seen again.

TV chefs are doing many things right. Before they start showing us a recipe, they always have all their ingredients ready, measured out into separate bowls and grouped together for the different elements of the dish – the meat, the sides, the sauce etc.

They can then launch into the actual cooking without having to break off to search for the right type of flour and without finding that the spices at the back of the cupboard are well out of date, just when they need to use them.

It’s a useful concept that the rest of us can adapt for our filing – if we can sort our information into well organised ‘pots’ and keep an eye on what’s in our ‘cupboards’ from time to time, we’ll always know exactly where something is. Being more organised doesn’t just save time and improve efficiency, it also reduces the frustration of losing or forgetting something important.

A few things to keep in mind when you tidy up your files are:

  • Duplication of information – do you have multiple copies of files saved in a number of formats and locations (e.g. hard copy, on shared drives, in the Cloud or saved on your home computer)? If so, are you sure they are all synchronised and would you know for certain that they are all up to date? With so many options these days, including both paper records and digital filing, it’s easy to get in a muddle.
  • Version control – do you have a system for logging multiple inputs into documents? Do you use it?
  • Contacts – if you need to get in touch with someone urgently, or you half remember a particular supplier you’d like to use, do you have their details saved where you can find them? It can help to have separate folders for contact details of groups of people such as computer techies, PR and communications support, designers, web developers etc.
  • A record of important notes and templates – this is the filing equivalent of a TV chef’s ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’. Keep a record of everything that’s important to know in your office or that can be reused, so you don’t have to recreate work that you’re sure you did in the past but just can’t find. For example, you could save a ‘how to’ of your basic office systems to help new staff members, and an organisational chart showing your reporting lines. It’s also helpful to keep notes on your external contacts and potential suppliers, such as when you last spoke to them, how they could be useful, why you decided to keep them on file and what it was about them that interested you at the time. That way, when you find yourself in need of external support, you know exactly where to look.
  • Sense checking – if you’ve been struggling with an inherited filing system, why not spend some time creating one that makes sense to you and your team? Plan it out carefully by looking at what you think you need moving forwards and matching archived information to the new folders.

While sorting out your filing system may not seem like your most pressing issue, it saves time in the long run and helps the office run efficiently, so it really is well worth doing.

And if you’re still not convinced that you can free up the time needed for what can be a large scale admin task, why not let us help clear your diary by picking up some of your regular work, such as producing next month’s newsletter? Knowing that someone else is keeping everything moving can give you the time and space to create a refreshing new filing system that helps, not hinders!

To find out how we could help take care of your communications tasks contact us today.

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