Top 10 Retrieval System Tips


file cabinet detail

In order for information to be readily retained and retrieved, you need an efficient system.

1. Alphabetize your files! Make sure the categories are not too general, otherwise the file becomes a disorganized “catch-all” and your good intentions will be sabotaged. Categorize and sub-categorize in a way that works for you!

2. Use sturdy hanging file folders with clear tabs. The colored tabs are harder to read. For the cleanest look, use a labeler, but neatly handwritten tabs are fine too.

3. For big files, use box bottom hanging files that accommodate multiple interior file folders.

4. Leave 1/4 of file cabinet drawer space empty to allow for additions to existing files. An overly full file cabinet is hard to use. Better to buy another cabinet than try to stuff more papers into the existing one.

5. If there is flexibility in space, consider your hand dominance when placing file cabinets or boxes in relation to your desk or workspace. What’s accessible for a right-handed person might be awkward for a left-handed person.

6. Center all labels rather than staggering them laterally. This seems counter-intuitive, but it really does make for easier viewing.

7. Try to avoid a “to file” box on your desk or kitchen counter. The need for this intermediate holding area is an indication that your filing system is too complicated or inaccessible. Figure out what’s not working and correct it.

8. Keep tax files in a separate file box- clearly labeled by year. You probably won’t need to frequently access them, but when you do, it’s a relief to be able to find what you need quickly.

9. Have the proper supplies on hand and the right amount of them – most systems fail because people run out of the supplies needed to maintain the system.

10. Year end is good time to purge files and create new ones for the upcoming year. Begin to get financial information ready for tax preparation and purge on-going files.

Remember that it’s much easier to keep up than to catch up!

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