Paperwork is an integral part of any process. From managing business documents as a startup or a multinational corporation and completing contracts and agreements as a freelancer to safekeeping medical records and filling out legal forms, paperwork is a necessary component of our lives.
In some cases, the paperwork itself is more complex than the task at hand. For instance, completing a mortgage application may require gathering tax returns, pay stubs, and relevant supporting documents going back several years. Another instance is when filling out a visa application, as the process often requires assembling an extensive dossier of documentation about the applicant’s education, family history, and financial situation. Nevertheless, there are strategic and smart ways to manage your paperwork, resulting in efficiency and stress-free safekeeping and retrieval of important files.
Here are some smart tips for organizing your paperwork:
Digitize your documents
By digitizing all your documents, maintaining and retrieving your files becomes easier and faster. Gone are the days of lost or misplaced information. You can now find what you need with just a few clicks of the mouse. In addition, digitizing your documents also helps protect them from damage or loss. Since they are stored in an electronic format, they are less likely to be damaged or destroyed than if they were kept in paper form. Furthermore, if documents do get damaged or destroyed, other copies can be easily retrieved.
Of course, there are many advantages to converting your documents to digital files. However, you need to know how to do it properly in order for the process to go smoothly and not result in any loss of information.
You can subscribe to an online document management application that allows you to store and manage your electronic documents with less effort. This way, you can also access your files from anywhere in the world, at any time.
Color-code your documents
Use a color-coding system for your files to avoid mix-ups and save time. This technique allows you to stay organized by categorizing your files with a color scheme of your choice, making it easier to sort through them.
People have been using colors since the beginning of file-keeping to differentiate between types of documents. For example, some banks use yellow for financial statements and blue for official company letters. Apply this technique by color-coding your folders on your computer, in your email filing system, or in any other physical filing system you use.
Organize filing cabinets by type of document
One way to make your office more organized is to place all of your documents in specific places. You can do this by organizing your filing cabinets and separating documents by type. This will make it easier for you to find what you need when you need it. You can use specific folders to organize your documents by topic. This will make it easy for you to find information when you need it.
Applying this technique to your paperwork processes can help you become more organized and efficient. You will be able to find what you need when you need it, which will help you work faster and more efficiently. This can lead to better productivity.
Separate documents by date
Another way to organize your documents is to file them by date. This can be especially helpful if you are looking for a document that was created or last modified a certain number of days ago. In order to file your documents by date, you will need to create folders and subfolders within those folders.
The first step is to create a folder for each year. Within the folder for the current year, create subfolders for each month. Within the subfolder for each month, create subfolders for each day. Finally, within the subfolder for each day, create one or more folders for your documents.
When you save a document, be sure to save it in the correct folder. This will help you to find it later when you need it.
Discard unimportant documents
Chances are, you might have a lot of unimportant documents lying around. If you are looking for a way to free up some space, you should consider going through your documents and discarding those that are no longer needed. You can either shred or recycle them. Just be sure to do it in a way that ensures the privacy of any confidential information.
For each document, set the duration of until when you will keep them; prioritize documents by setting a retention period for them. If a document is important, you can keep it longer. However, if it is just another receipt or letter, consider getting rid of it after a month. This rule should also apply to electronic files that are on your computer.
Make filing a routine
If you are maintaining physical documents, it is wise to sort your files regularly to avoid clutter and make it easier to find what you need. This is also a good way to identify any missing or misplaced documents. If you are using a computer, you can create folders and subfolders to help keep your files organized. If you have a lot of paperwork, it can be helpful to designate specific days or times of the week to organize your files — and stick to them. This way, you will not become overwhelmed by the task of organizing your documents.
You should schedule when you will revisit your kept documents to decide whether you should still keep them for a longer period of time, as they are still relevant; consider them as old, therefore making them appropriate to be stored in the archives; or discard them since they are no longer needed.
The frequency of your reviewing schedule should be based on how often the documents are used and how important they are. Normally, you would want to review your old documents at least once a year, if not more often. One common way of reviewing documents is to do a “Purge and Review” every so often. This means that you go through all your old documents and decide what to keep, shred, and archive.
By following these tips, you will be able to organize your documents properly and keep your files easy to find. This will help to improve your productivity and make it easier for you to access the information that you need.