Organize – Everything in It’s Place

It may sound unusual for someone from a structured background like finance and accounting, but I’m one of those people who by nature do not like to organize things like paperwork. Don’t get me wrong, the initial task is not what I mind, but rather the maintenance required for staying organized.

Do It Anyway

The bottom line is I do it anyway. Not that I’m as neat as many others, but I recognize the need to keep a fair degree of organization.

A Simple Method

Recognizing that many of you are like me and tend to postpone this task, I have found that there are a few little secrets that help. When organizing paperwork try the following:

  1. Get a supply of file folders and labels
  2. Separate the papers into 3 piles: Keep It, Throw It Away, and Decide Later
  3. Throw away the “Throw It Away” pile before you change your mind.
  4. Create and label folders for the “Keep It” pile and file it before it gets buried again
  5. Go through the “Decide Later” pile and repeat steps 2 through 4 with it.
  6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 until all paperwork is handled.

I have found that it helps to have a regular time to organize. How frequently depends on the amount of paperwork you handle. It is a good idea to do it very frequently at first to get in the habit.

If you work mostly with digital data, the process is somewhat similar. You can skip step 1, but you can do steps 2 through 6 electronically as easily as with physical paper. I sometimes set-up a folder to put items I want to peruse later, but it is imperative to have a regular time to review items in that folder or it will get out of hand quickly. There is also the advantage with digital data that you can place it in a folder immediately for future use without having to have a pile of physical folders available.

If you use an email system like Google Gmail, you also have the advantage of assigning multiple labels to something and then archiving. That way you have multiple ways to find an item. For example, suppose you have an email that relates to a construction contract. You may assign a label for the company to which the email relates and another for the particular project. Regardless of what method you use electronically, you must organize or you will lose important information.

A Clear Benefit

It is an incredibly freeing feeling to get  rid of stacks of paper on your desk and knowing you now know where everything is. You look and feel more in control and will experience less stress. The same goes for sorting, labeling and filing emails or other electronic data. Of course, one of the clear benefits of electronic files is the ease with which they can be searched.

This has always been a work-in-process for me as I learn new methods. What techniques do you use to stay on top of your physical and electronic information?

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.

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