3 Signs Your Paper Filing System Is Failing You

dreamstime_xs_31842486Let’s face it, nobody likes filing (I know I don’t!). But in this data-driven world, sometimes our sanity depends on being able to get our hands on just the right piece of information at the right time. Plus, as small business owners & entrepreneurs, we are legally required to keep a certain amount of information for a pre-determined period of time. But there is another important reason why having a solid filing system is crucial to our success.

For me, the state of my physical environment has a direct impact on how productive I am! I simply cannot concentrate if I’m surrounded by piles of papers and my desk is littered with miscellaneous notes. Plus I’m filled with confidence and a feeling of competence when I have, like my mom used to say, “a place for everything and everything in its place.” I suspect this is the case with the vast majority of us.

Our filing systems are either helping or hindering productivity. If you can identify with any or most of the points below, you may be due for a filing system makeover.

Is This You?

  1. You don’t know where to file things. Grab the top piece of paper on one of those piles sitting on your desk (or floor, or whereever). Do you know, without a doubt, where this piece of paper should go? Your customized paper filing system should include one, and only one, specific location where that piece of paper goes. If you cannot readily answer the “where does it go” question, your filing system is failing you.
  2. It takes you more than half a minute to locate a specific piece of paper. This is not at all unrealistic. In fact, half a minute is rather lax. I specifically worked with dozens of business customers on their filing systems. Each and every one of them was able to access the right piece of paper in less than 30 seconds. If they can do it, so can you!
  3. Your inbox is “part” of your filing system. And so is your desk, the floor, and your paper recycling bin. Look about you. Are you surrounded by piles of papers that you’re not currently using? Most of the time we fall behind on our filing not only because it is a tedious chore, but because our filing system is confusing or impractical. If it’s easier for you to stack papers instead of filing them, then your paper filing system is failing you.

If the points above hit home, perhaps it’s time for trying something new. I’m working on a free ebook, Small Business Filing System Makeover. If you’d like a free copy when it’s done, do let me know!

Does a disorganized office keep you from doing your best work? Or am I the only one?

What do you think?