1. Categorize Information and Create a Master Outline
Look at your business and decide how you want to categorize your information. For example I have: Administration, Marketing, Finances, etc. as my Master Outline and than under those larger categories, I create subcategories: My sample
Policies & Procedures
Forms / Templates
Create tabs for the Master Outline and use on hanging folders, use manila folders with labels for your subcategories. Make sure that you give all files a name, do not use Miscellaneous as a file name, because the file will began to accumulate papers and you will not be able to find items easily and quickly. You can use this same format to keep electronic files as well.
2. Create a Tickler File System
Get twelve manila folders and label them January – December, then you will need 31 more vanilla folders labeled 1 – 31 for the days in the month and two additional folders labeled for the upcoming years. As I am writing this it is 2006, so you would create a 2007 folder and a 2008 folder.
Which ever month that you are currently in, include the days of the month folders (1-31). Whenever you have a planned task, appointment, project deadline just put the information in the folder that you need to get it done. For example, If I need to complete and submit an article to a publication that my target audience reads on December 15, 2006, than I would put the contact information and due date and a checklist in the folder for December 15, 2006. On Dec. 15, everything that needs to be done is in my tickler file. Review you tickler file daily.
What if I am planning to attend a conference in May 17, 2008, than I would put all the necessary information in the 2008 file and file those items according once I get to that month and year. Tickler files should also be in sync to your daily planner.
3. Purge Your Filing System
Do not let files contain more 25 – 30 pieces of paper. It is best to block time on your schedule once every three months to go through your files to see if there is any information that can de discarded or scanned and saved electronically. Check with your accountant and banker to see how long documentation should be retained. Also check out www.bankrate.com/brm/news/mtg/20000518h.asp it contains a checklist of how long you should keep financial documents. You must keep your filing system neat and easy to obtain the information you want when you want it. It is best to keep the most used files near you in your desk drawer.