I like a lot of Smead’s products because the company often thinks of us, the users and how to make all this organization easier on us. Papers aren’t going away so if you can think of them as part of the documentation of your business or personal life, then these filing tasks are a bit easier.
I’ve written about papers before; the blog links are at the bottom of this post.
Today, I have a list of typical business files you’ll want if you’re a solo business owner, and this Smead product fits right in. This blog post is not about maintaining your files, but about setting up for quick and easy access and limiting the visual clutter which is so distracting.
We all need some paper files. How much you keep in paper versus on your computer is your choice.
This product makes paper filing so easy. You can even skip the interior folders and just use these to make it super simple. Write on the tabs or buy some file folder labels. I’d rather spend my time on photography, with my family, eating out or many other things than spending too much time on keeping and filing papers.
So whatever makes papers easier – whether they are mine or we’re working at a client’s, I’m all for that. Saves time on setup and saves time when you can find things more easily.
Keep a small supply right at your desk so it’s super easy to set up a new file. I set up a file when I have just a couple of pieces of paper because … my cluttered desk will mean my mind is also cluttered.
While we’re talking products, I also like Viewables. A bit harder to set up, but if your desk drawer’s at an angle, these labels are just the thing.
The Process & The Person Behind It
- Group your papers by how you think about them. If you have a lot to go through, take an inch at a time. Or take 15 minutes at a time. Not a whole box; most people will get overwhelmed.
- Particularly as a solo business owner, go wild; name the files in a way that will help you when you say, “Now where did I file that?”
- Make a connection between the paper and other papers, so you have a keyword in your brain of what these papers have in common and why they are being put into the same folder.
- If you want, you can make those super large categories: CEU’s, My Talks/Presentations …
- …OR, you can skip the super large categories and use a simple, alphabetical system: NAPO presentations, Author Talks;
- …or even simpler, NAPO Virtual Chapter Presentation, NAPO Baltimore presentation, Fairfield Author Talk.
- Experiment and see which way your brain recalls a particular topic; do you group by presentations, where you gave them, or the topic? Or no groups at all, just alphabetical, regardless of what the thing is.
Suggested filing topics – meaning the kinds of information you’ll want to have – but you name the files.
- These are the ones for your file drawer, not the ones you need on your desktop for daily use.
- These absolutely can be PC files instead of paper; the choices is yours, but do one or the other, so you know the one place to go find what you need.
- Think about what you do every day; which facets of your business do you need reference files for.
Alliances, Articles, Clients, Education/CEU’s, Financial (receipts, year-to-year tracking), Forms for my business, Ideas, Marketing, Media/Press, Networking Groups, Newsletter/Blog Ideas, Product Development, Systems, Website, Workshops I give. And a whole other category of “Archives.”
My best advice? Listen to your intuition: when you pick up a piece of paper, what do you think about? What’s the connection? THAT is a great file name, for you. Maybe not for the next person, but listening to your intuition will make paper management easier and faster for you.
And something to think about: It’s quite often that if you’re having paper overwhelm challenges, there’ s usually another issue at work as well. Perhaps there’s a time management issue. You’re keeping out all those papers to remind yourself of things to do. Or a fear of not having what’s needed when it’s needed – that’s partly a system that’s not working for you and so it’s harder to trust it.