I am the office manager of a medium-sized nonprofit. I started this job a year and a half ago, and within my first week I knew I had to address the lateral files that sit behind my desk.
And now, just 78 weeks later, I think I am about to do it. I like to think that it’s taken me this long to “know the job” enough to be able to make prudent decisions about what to keep and what to purge, as well as how best to organize the truly important papers. Couldn’t be that I was simply postponing what I view as unpleasant and time-consuming.
To start, I do what all good workers do. I Googled “filing.” Since everyone does it, there must be some secret, PERFECT system out there, right? After spending quite a bit of time watching YouTube videos about filing, I have come away with three points:
1. Use color. It really does make it easier to find what you need quickly, and just makes the drawers look better – even if you haven’t finished going through all the papers, you can convince yourself you’re making good progress, which is half the battle!
2. 80% of what you file, you never look at again. Several sites and videos quote this statistic. I don’t know if that’s true or not (or what it’s based on) but honestly? It sounds plausible to me. Before I took this job, there were several people who filled in temporarily, and I think they all shared the thought that it’s better to save everything – and preferably multiple copies of everything – just to “be safe.” And I guess if I look at the alternative (saving nothing), this is better. But if I could purge 80% of what’s in there, my job sure would be easier.
And 3. There’s no secret, perfect system. It’s mostly common sense, and a commitment to consistency. But all seem to agree that if you take the time to set it up well, it will save you a lot of time later.
And if you really want to
waste invest the time to see the pros, here are some selections you might enjoy:
“Most viewed” video on filing tips that I could find:
And finally, possibly the best idea I found (though I doubt my boss would agree):