Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Struggle to Find Filed Documents

When you applied for your job with the Western Women's Liberation Movement (or perhaps the Eastern Men's Liberation Movement) you wrote the best application letter ever. Then you filed it under "WWLM Letter" so you'd be able to find it at the drop of a hat. But now, 6 months later, not only can you not recall the name of the organisation that wasn't astute enough to hire you, but you have no idea what you called that letter. You want to reuse the content to save reinventing the wheel, but eventually give up. If only you could have filed it where you could find it!

This is a common ailment that all but the most organised and particular face. I faced it for years until one day I woke up to the fact that it could all be done better. I implemented a standard filing system. 

My system labels every file with the year number followed by the month and date of creation. Next is the type of business document it is ie, Tax Invoice, Sales Invoice, Letter, Email, Backup etc. Now, when I sort my files, they line up by date and type of business document as in the example above.

When I need to find something, I usually know what I'm looking for: a tax invoice for something I purchased in November, 2008. I sort the files and look in the 2008 range of files for Tax Invoices that detail the company or product I bought. Bingo, I find the file within minutes.

Since eight digit file names are no longer a limiting factor, you can use longer names that describe more about what your file contains. Design a system that suits you, mine is only one way of doing it. Then, print a page with examples and instructions and give them to all of your staff. Once everyone begins using the same protocol, time wasted looking for files will drop substantially.

Give it a go and tell me what you think. Do you have a better system? Tell us about it.

Robin

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1 comment:

  1. I should have said that you need to reverse the date ie, not 3009 for 30th September, but 09 for the month and then 30. That way is more efficient. I choose to leave spaces, but you could make it one number ie,
    20110528 and the result will be the same.

    Robin

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