General Reference Filing – A Key to a Clean Desk

paper-filesDo you know someone who has piles of papers stacked on their desk?  Over time, these piles can spill out to neighboring chairs, tables, and even onto the floor.  In such cases, it is safe to assume that this person’s filing system has stopped functioning.

If not managed efficiently, paper filing systems can easily swallow up whole offices.  Therefore, it is important to tame them as soon as possible and keep them in check year-round. Thankfully, there are very easy steps to do just that.  For starters:

  • Use a single A-Z filing system for everything. Simplicity trumps complexity every time.
  • Keep a stack of file folders within reach to file anything quickly. If file folders are only available in a supply cabinet down the hall they may as well be on Mars for all the chance you will walk down to get one.
  • Purge your files annually. Reference material goes stale over time.  Toss things that no longer have any apparent value.
  • Keep your filing cabinets no more than three quarters full. Don’t let it get to the point where jamming in a document incurs a high risk of paper cuts.  Clean up or expand to another cabinet when space is low.

More great tips on general reference filing can be found in this simple handout from the Getting Things Done web site.

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