“The lack of a good filing system can be one of the greatest obstacles to implementing a personal management system” – David Allen in Getting Things Done.
You need a good filing system or your in tray will get clogged up with stuff you should have filed.
Your filing system needs to:
- take less than a minute to file anything
- easy to use
- fun to use
You will need one or more filing cabinets. If you can get them go for the ones with a moving plate to hold the file folders upright rather than hanging files. If it’s one with hanging files – label the folders you put in instead of the hanging folders and only only put one file per hanger. But don’t let them get more than three quarters full.
Keep a stack of new file folders handy and invest in a labeller. I use a Brother P-Touch 65 – it’s battery and mains operated and can make fancy labels as well as plain ones but I think it may have been superceded by the P-Touch 80. David Allen has this handsome beast on his desk that connects to his laptop via a USB socket.
Typeset labels “change the nature of your files and your relationship with them” says David . They’re just easier to pick out and look more professional if you take them into a meeting.
When it comes to labelling your files, Keep It Simple Stupid! Think about how best to label folders so that you can quickly find what you’re looking for. If you have lots of files it may make sense to devote a whole filing drawer to finance. If you wanted to file all your credit card statements, for example, then if you have a separate finance drawer just labelling your folders – MBNA, John Lewis, etc. would be fine but if you’re mixing all your reference files together then labelling these ones “Credit Card MBNA” and “Credit Card John Lewis” would be better. If more than one person needs to access your filing system consult them about how best to label the folders.
And don’t forget to purge your files occasionally – at least once a year!