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Office File Organization: Three Ways to Avoid Losing Files

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Does your office or department receive ‘urgent’ emails asking about the location of a missing file? Have any important documents or paperwork gone missing every year? If all of your answers are yes, then your company has an inefficient file retrieval system.

Missing documents may seem a minor issue, but when if it’s related to your job or business, you’re getting yourself in big trouble. Losing files in the office can have serious and costly implications for the company. If you can’t find important files, critical procedures such as customer service and invoicing get delayed. This issue can cause internal issues between managers and employees, and more importantly, lost revenue.

Keeping office operations running efficiently is the goal of every company. This is essential to legal trouble and any company-related issues. Some companies are taking this seriously by implementing file organization guidelines or hiring commercial cleaning services to ensure that the office is in good shape and free of clutter.

Given the stakes involved in company documents, employees should know the basic document management techniques. In this article, we will show you how to save important documents while boosting productivity and protecting the company’s interest from liabilities.

Be organized

If your manager requests to bring a report you have kept in unknown storage many months ago, can you submit it instantly? Can you hand it over while he’s still waiting over your cubicle, or will you tell him you’ll bring it later?

Searching old files is a notorious time-killer. Most employees don’t have their own filing system, so they often waste time finding missing files. Poor file organization can ruin trust and impression on your manager, coworkers, and clients. Companies need employees they can trust whether it’s a document or project. Once they learn about your carelessness, they will likely refuse to assign important tasks to you.

Start by implementing a basic filing system through color-coding. For example, assign the color green for business finances and mark all related documents with a green dot and keep all envelopes and files with green dots in a single storage organizer. If you want to keep it basic, stick with colored index tabs or colored pens.

If you want to be extra organized, use file folders in different colors for each major project or department you work with. For example, keep all the budget-related files in the purple folder to keep all related documents together. This also works for digital folders, not just paper. To keep track of color-coding options, record them on a digital spreadsheet.

Broad headings are also a great idea. Assigning folders for a specific task or date can lead to file overflow. Instead, use broader terms to minimize the use of folders and envelopes. For example, replace “Financial Report for January 30, 2017” with “Financial Reports, 2017”.

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Control the clutter

If we’re too busy at work, taking time to clean the workspace becomes the least priority. As a result, our desks become so messy that we waste time finding what we need. Meanwhile, others are so obsessed with keeping their desks spotless that they neglect other urgent tasks. Whatever your situation, a poor file organization can leave you inefficient and unproductive. If you want to accomplish more work in a shorter time, having your own organizational style can make a difference.

The first step is to think about how to organize and clean your desk. A clutter-free desk doesn’t need to be completely spotless, you simply need a systematic method of how to keep things in the right order. If the desk requires a major cleanup, start by removing every item from the desk. Empty the drawers and throw everything you don’t need. Then, return all essential files on the desk and file them.

Track document versions

Another common dilemma is tracking multiple versions of a single document. This often happens if you submitted a report to the manager and the document goes back and forth for revisions. The issue occurs when the manager asks for the final copy of the file after several months. After locating the file folder, you end up finding multiple versions of the document and unsure which report was the final version.

To monitor documents with endless revisions, take advantage of cloud storage solutions. Send the link of the live document to your manager to keep track of any recent changes. Also, avoid sending files through email to avoid confusion and utilize the features of your word processor, such as ‘Versions’ and ‘Track Changes’.

Whether it’s an assignment, report, or office budget, misplaced documents can cause serious repercussions to the business. But with these document management techniques, there’s no need to lose important files in the office ever again. Aside from the steps above, you can try other file management techniques to ensure a clutter-free workspace.

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