Paperwork is a problem in almost every home business, as it always piles up quickly and is rarely top of the priority list. The ideal solution is to reduce the overall amount of paperwork in your office, in order to help you find the important stuff more quickly and efficiently. Once you’ve done that, you need to train yourself to file it away, and not to leave it in piles around the room.
The Paperless Office
While there’s been talk of the “paperless office” for many years, the reality is that although modern technology like smartphones and the Cloud are decreasing our reliance on physical paperwork, there’s still a long way to go, and a lot of paperwork in most offices that still needs to be looked after. Fire filing cabinets are the obvious solution, protecting vital documents in the event of an outbreak of fire.
Reducing Your Paperwork Mountain
Before you consider doing away with your paperwork, ask yourself the right questions. Is it more efficient for you to drop a particular file into a folder, or is it quicker to scan it? Another important question is whether you need others to access the documents from the Cloud, in which case it might be worth considering moving everything to the Cloud. While you can’t get rid of all the paperwork in your office, you can almost certainly reduce it. Can you find it online? Then you don’t need to keep it. Start off by getting rid of what you don’t really need, and then create well-organised digital files, so that you can find them easily when you are working with scanned files. Have a good back up system in place, in case of computer disaster. Finally, get rid of new paper that arrives every day – take yourself off any unwanted mailing lists.
Deal with the Remaining Paperwork
What’s left is the paperwork that you need to store, with order and method. While you may know what is in the pile of paperwork on your desk and roughly where in the pile to find it, no one else will, and a gust of wind or clumsy cat could soon destroy your “system.” Invest in some fire filing cabinets, and create an A-Z filing system. Don’t bother with colour coding your folders, or anything else that might require extra supplies – stick to plain manila and old-fashioned alphabetical order.
While it may take a while to create, an alphabetical system will be a great investment. Many hours are lost simply trying to find things. Statistics show that the average worker spends 150 hours every year looking for misplaced information.
Having organised your paperwork, don’t let a fire wipe it out in one go. Get a fire filing cabinet that retains an internal temperature cool enough to stop your paperwork combusting, and save your business from the threat of destruction.