Ah, spring. New beginnings, fresh starts, organised file systems – sounds good, right? Organising your files might not be the most exciting part of your day, but doing a bit of maintenance work now will make filing easier in the future.
Whether you set aside an hour or a morning, de-cluttering your file system has multiple benefits:
- You'll be less stressed (goodbye clutter!) and more productive
- Everything will be organised, easier to find, and more secure
- You'll develop better filing habits - you're more likely to keep things organised once you've experienced the benefits of having them that way
If your file system is looking a bit worse for wear, here are our spring cleaning tips to revamp your file system and get yourself set up for a productive year ahead.
Step one: Assess the damage
Decide on what you want to achieve – do you want to do a quick clean up (archive old folders, move files off your desktop into your shared file system), or a deep clean (e.g. reorganise each client folder).
Do you need to scan paper documents into your file system or do anything else that will take up a lot of time? What do you need to delegate or what can you delegate?
Book in some time to tackle what you want to do (because you know you won't do it otherwise!) and get started.
Step two: Purge!
It might not be appropriate for your business to delete things from your file system. Instead do some decluttering by archiving files and folders that you want to retain, but that are old or not immediately useful.
Step three: Organise
This is the real work! Start off by moving files off your desktop and onto your shared drive or cloud document management system, instantly making it more accessible and secure.
If you have the capability, move your emails and any attachments you want your staff to have access to onto your shared file system.
Turn common folders/files/emails into templates – what types of files and folders do you always use? If you're using SuiteFiles, turning these into templates is easy, otherwise a saved draft email or word document will work.
Create or relabel folders to make it clear what they contain. This is also a good chance to think about how you file documents and whether you need to create a process document for your team.
Step four: Backup
Now that you've got your file system sorted, it's time to back it up. Whether it's on hard drives or through a cloud solution, a backup is there as a security measure and fail safe for your business.
Don't rely on your recycle bin or version control for documents to save you – these can still be deleted or fail. SuiteFiles backs up your file system daily, giving you a view of your documents over time rather than just over-writing your previous backup. This is great if you need to restore a specific file from a previous day.
Step five: Form good habits
Sometimes the hardest part of any good spring clean is maintaining it. Going forward, having solid processes in place will help to ensure that good habits are formed and kept. Take the time to improve your document management processes by developing it with your team. Afterwards, provide training or a shared document.
Our 10 Commandments for Successful Filing is a good starting point.
What do you do to maintain your document management system? Do you do a 'spring clean' once a year or do you have strong processes around how you file documents?