There’s no hiding from paperwork.
Whether it’s for your personal life in the form of mortgage, tenancy or car agreements, utility bills and payslips, or for business admin, paperwork gets everywhere.
People have drawers of the stuff. Some people even have entire cabinets for it.
And when the time comes to need to refer back, you can find yourself trawling through it all for days, weeks, months?
Here’s how you avoid the paperwork headache.
A no-brainer, really. Not only does transferring your paperwork into a centrally-stored, easily accessible and backed-up digital location mean you get more space, more security and less clutter, it also helps save the planet. Think of all the unnecessary paperwork that is binned every day.
The next time you come to print something, ask yourself, do you really need to print it? For most businesses, hard copies have had their day.
Categorising your digital paperwork lets you access things quicker. If you need something, you know exactly which category to look at. But how to categorise?
You might choose to organise by year. For small businesses, this is often the first categorisation. From here, you can subcategorise to include other elements of important paperwork and documents depending on your business and sector. Ultimately, you need something that works for you. There are countless tools out there to help with categorisation, but if it makes it feel like a burden you won’t stick to, why bother?
Sort your email
If you go digital, it stands to reason that almost all of your paperwork will suddenly come from your mailboxes. The result? A very clunky inbox.
To fix this, you should organise your inbox depending on your business needs. You might want to organise by sender, whether there are documents attached, or by subject. If important documents don’t get filed into your central filing system, it means you can still quickly find a ‘hard copy’ in the original email it was sent.
For many businesses, storing certain data, documents and other paperwork can be mandatory for a set time. Often enough, these set times are a little shorter than the average time businesses review their filing. This means that there could be historic documents in your filing system that simply aren’t relevant anymore.
Regularly review your files to ensure they don’t get swamped with old paperwork. Whatever you find, bin it. It’s worth designating times to do this monthly.
Find a system and stick with it
Some of us are simply not efficient organisers. It’s just not how we’re programmed. However, we know the benefits of effective filing. We know the stresses inefficient filing can have, and we have lots of tools available to us to make filing easy.
Look around and experiment. Your filing system needs to suit the way your business works. Once you find a system, stick with it. Once you get into the routine, organising paperwork can become second nature, just another part of our day-to-day business. We’ll appreciate the work we put in when digging up old files only takes a minute or so.