(thanks Google Images)
As promised, this blog post will focus on helping you get (and stay!) organized for 2013. If your SMB is like ours, you’re doing a lot of the work that large companies hire out yourself—which means you need to be ultra-organized and effective in order to get everything your business needs completed quickly and correctly. We’ve noticed, both from personal experience and from scouring the internet, that most SMBs have trouble staying organized in at least one of three areas: filing, storage, and day-to-day operations. Today’s post will focus on getting your filing organized. Filing is the bane of many an existence—though with this easy system, it need not be. Here’s how it’s done:
The Mother Categories: Your filing system should include “Action,” “Reference,” and “Archive” as its three mother–and completely separate–categories. Each mother category should then contain specific sub-categories.
Action: These are files you reference daily or weekly and require action and/or contain information you need at your desk. The sub-categories will vary wildly from business to business. Your sub-category files might be separated by person so that “Jim’s File” holds all of the paperwork, memos, and items to be addressed by Jim. Action files can also be categorized into days of the week with tasks and paperwork being filed into its appropriate day. An “Awaiting Action” folder will be useful to store items that require a step to be taken by someone else before you are able to act. Action folders should be cleared out or re-filed on a weekly basis.
Reference: These are files you reference monthly to yearly. Good examples are your insurance policy, current tax information, current invoices, and any yearly agreements or contracts. Make sure your sub-categories are clearly labeled so that should you need to reference any of the paperwork you have filed, it can be easily located. Because these files do not need to be accessed as often, they can be stored in a different area than your “Action” files. Reference folders should be cleared out or re-filed at the end of every year.
We recommend storing your Reference folders in something like this: File cabinet.
Archive: This is where the majority of your paperwork will end up. Archive files are for storing information that you are required to keep for a set amount of years or indefinitely. This would include past tax information, bills paid, customer contracts, past invoices, and old bank statements. These files should be kept in categories according to year with a sub-category for purpose (vise-versa would also work) to make for easy locating. Because these folders are referenced very rarely they can be kept in a store room. Archive files should be gone through and appropriately shredded yearly—just make sure you are keeping at least seven years’ worth of information, per the IRS.
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