It often just piles up. Hardly anyone likes it. We put it off until we can’t stand it anymore. It makes us feel guilty. Filing – a very necessary part of our everyday work. To avoid spending hours filing, I have listed a few strategies to help you keep this under control and avoid it piling up in a corner of your desk (or hiding it in a drawer or box).
Gather it in one place – When dealing with paper filing, gather it all in one central location. You may choose to put it in a box or a folder. Have one specific place for all filing.
Allocate 15 minutes a week to file – To be more productive with your time, allocate 15 minutes each week. Initially it may take you longer to catch up if you have a large pile, but 15 minutes will be very manageable. We all can find this time in our week.
Set up filing systems –Ensure your filing cabinets have a sense of order, e.g., keep all current client case files in one drawer and potential clients, practice development and reference information in separate drawers. This will make it easier to locate files quickly. Label the front of the filing cabinet with the type of files contained inside.
Use color coding to systemize your files – Invest in colored folders and make a list of what each color represents, e.g., blue = client files, purple = personal, yellow = staff, etc. This way when you glance in your filing cabinet you can quickly find what you are looking for. You may also choose to file same color files together.
Set up colored day files – Use a different colored folder for each day of the week. Place these files in a drawer or beside your desk and use these for tasks that require action on certain days. Each day check your folder for that day for paper relating to activities or cases for that day. When you receive paper that requires action on a certain day, make time in your calendar to complete it and then place it in the colored day file.
Get Help – Recruit someone in the firm to help you with your filing. You might want to barter time with them. Share your talents and expertise with them in exchange for assistance with your filing. Be creative and get it done!
To assist others in the firm, to help you find things quickly and to help you feel more productive, you need to master your filing! Now where did I put that file …?