7 Filing Hacks That Will Change the Way You Work

Remote WorkingAmy Vagne  |  Nov 28, 2021

Don’t drown in a sea of paperwork. Employ these handy and creative organisation tips, and discover filing hacks that really work.

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A place for everything, and everything in its place… it’s not a new idea, but it is essential to a smooth-running and productive workplace. An international survey found that, on average, workers waste more than two hours a week unsuccessfully searching for documents, and a further two hours recreating documents that have been lost. The easy fix? Set up an efficient filing system.

1. Set Up a Colour-Coded File System

Colour coding your paperwork is pleasing to the eye and, more importantly, can help you access what you need in an instant. Something as simple as a pack of bright Manila folders or some rainbow sticky labels can save you time and energy during a busy day. 

To get started, assign colours for each file type – blue could represent property document files while yellow might stand for all things banking. Another colour-coded filing hack is to use colour to represent years – red for 2020 paperwork and pink for 2021. While you’re setting up your file folders, spend some time sorting through existing paperwork, and be sure to shred anything unnecessary.

2. Go Paperless

Welcome to the 21st century! Gone are the days when rows of bulky filing cabinets and stacks of paperwork were a must. Convert important documents to electronic files with a scanner, and use cloud storage to manage them without cluttering up valuable space. 

The benefits of digital filing storage solutions are endless: it’s faster, more efficient, and can help protect your data files from being damaged or lost. When the threat of cyber attack looms large, having backups in data storage ensures your sensitive documents are kept under lock and key. 

Hot Tip Be consistent with naming conventions and folder set-ups for maximum efficacy. Your office will instantly feel more organised.

3. Set Expiration Dates for Your File Storage

In some cases, there are files you don’t want or need to store forever. Educate yourself on the records you’re required to keep and their mandatory retention periods. For more information, read the federal government’s comprehensive guide on record keeping

Once you’re in the know, shred any files you no longer need and establish a list of expiration dates for everything else. Set up automated reminders so you’re not holding onto files and documents in your storage systems years after needing them. For incoming paperwork, such as mail, bills and invitations, try this paper filing hack: put it in a tray on the go and aim to sort through it three times a week.

4. Embrace Wall Storage for File Management

Strapped for space? Think outside the box – or filing cabinet – and try mounting wall pockets for easy sorting and storage of your files. This manual filing system is particularly useful when you’re sharing files with a team – allowing for easy access to essential documents, and guaranteeing others understand your filing process. Hello, more free time for you! 

Implementing wall storage is a nifty filing hack to remedy a cramped desk or make use of dead space in an office, such as a corner, hallway or partition wall. Wall pockets are a brilliant file management option for home filing, too – a central place to stash bills, party invites and permission slips.

5. Make Filing Documents Fun

We get it; document filing isn’t exactly the sort of sexy work task you dream about doing. But it won’t seem like such a chore if you find ways to make it fun. Step one: buy exciting accessories. 

Before you archive documents, invest in brightly coloured filing cabinets and archiving boxes (white and black are so boring!), and stock up on fun folders, a shredder and a label maker. If you’re sitting down to do repetitive filing tasks, listen to music or a podcast while you work.

Hot Tip Schedule a file-sorting session right before lunch time – your hunger should motivate you to get the job done.

Your filing system doesn’t have to be alphabetically organised – choose a structure that makes the most sense for you and your workplace. This may sound simple but many overlook this handy filing hack. 

Arrange files so that the popular or heavily trafficked documents are front and centre while less popular files can live at the back. As long as everything is well labelled you shouldn’t have a problem ditching a traditional alphabetical or chronological document filing structure. 

The same goes with your equipment; it’s quite alright to swap out classic filing cabinets for a series of lever arch folders or ring binders, or start your own system with a desktop file organiser and file folders. Go crazy!

7. Keep Your Filing System Simple

Don’t overthink the way you organise. A simple filing system that’s easy to use and can grow with your needs is the best approach. Try this filing hack: choose broad categories that will allow you to easily add new files and eliminate any need to restructure in the future. 

Or try adopting a pragmatic filing system. Sort all incoming paperwork into one of five folders: 

  • ACTION (documents that need you act on immediately)

  • ARCHIVE (papers you need to hold onto, but only reference intermittently)

  • GENERAL (papers you need to refer to regularly)

  • RECYCLE (non-sensitive documents you no longer need)

  • SHRED (documents you no longer need and must destroy to protect sensitive information).

Hot Tip Try this filing hack: choose broad categories that will allow you to easily add new files and eliminate any need to restructure in the future.

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