In this day of information exchanges whether electronic or paper, a system for filing, retaining and archiving is vital. One can never know when there will be a need for a file, receipt or other document from past years. While it may seem easy, the flow of messaging can quickly become overwhelming. When time to find something, you know is there, it becomes frustrating.
Here are some tips to design a system. Decide what you need to save and how long. This goes for electronic and paper. Watch for tax related documents to be retained in case of audit. Designing a physical paper trail starts with examining how many files to store. This determines the size of filing storage needed. Divide between business and personal. Sub divisions may be financially related like mortgage or rent communication, bank statements, utilities and purchases with warranty agreements.
All aspects of a business where data is exchanged should be considered. At home, don’t forget school and medical communication. Once this system is in place it will be important to archive each year. For example, keep all of the 2022 data together as you start on the next year with its own set of storage categories. End of year processing includes a purge of records that don’t need to be retained or are easily found online. It’s not necessary to purchase new filing cabinets but more economical to use a storage box for the previous year’s files. Be sure to mark the box clearly. An alternative to filing paper is to scan all the documents to digital format. While time consuming it can save physical space in the home or office. Research to make sure the documents may be stored electronically legally.
The methods for electronic data will be similar to the physical. Create a system of folders and sub-folders on your computer to file this data. In a similar fashion end of the year archiving exercises should take place especially when the email traffic is heavy. Important, backup your data regularly. Do it yourself to an external or a cloud drive or make use of an online backup service that guarantees recovery of lost data. For business these are especially useful as they will archive your data automatically. Figure out what you need and design a system that works for you. Take some stress out of life.
Ted Saul is a business coach and writer that assists with Business Plans, Project Management and Career Management. He earned his MBA from Regis University along with a Masters in project management. Ted can be reached on LinkedIn or by emailing TedSaulbiz@gmail.com.