How to Set Up Your Personal File System

by ianmckenzie on February 3, 2012

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Whether we like it or not, paperless systems are slow reaching mass acceptance. Unless you work for a company that has invested in paperless processes, you likely see loads of paper coming across your desk.

How do you deal with it? You could explore a personal paperless system. However, if that’s not workable for you right now, make sure you have a good filing system in place.

When building you system, consider these factors:

  • Don’t be too logical. It’s your system, and no one else will be using it. It only needs to make sense toyou.
  • Keep it simple. Use a limited number of categories. You may find the these five to be adequate:
    • Projects - files with information related to different projects you are working on.
    • Instant Tasks - folders on little jobs to fill in your time when you have a few minutes. Perhaps low priority letters to be answered, or general interest articles.
    • Self-Development- folders related to training: books, articles, etc.
    • Ideas - items you wish to investigate further to improve your operation.
    • Reference Information - a resource for different things you are involved with. Keep separate folders by topic and refer to them when you need statistics, examples, quotations, etc.
  • Colour code you files. Use colours to highlight priorities within each category to draw attention toyour most important items. This is easily accomplished by using different color highlighters and marking individual folders.
  • Schedule a regular filing time. Keep your filing current so time won’t be wasted searching for an item.
  • Purge! Clean your files periodically to keep the volume of material to an essential minimum. This also will reduce time going through files when you are looking for something.


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