I’m in the process of organizing my business files. So I’m wondering how you have your business files organized. Can you spare some advice on how to organize my files?
Your question made me thing a bit about how I actually handle business files. I, like most these days, keep files on my computer and paper files. My organization is along the lines of how I think I’ll need to use what ever I decide to keep and file.
For example, in the US our Internal Revenue Service requires us to keep tax paper work roughly forever – up to seven years depending on the circumstances. Since I track my expanses I put receipts needing to be entered in a shoe box on my desk. When I enter them they get moved to one of two boxes on the top of my bookcase – personal expenses and business expenses. From there they can be gathered for my tax guy and ultimately stored in a closet.
Other paper gets stored in three file drawers alphabetically. One drawer is for research, ideas, and what-have-you that have to do with something I might write. When I’m ghostwriting, printouts and such go into a brightly colored folder in a holder on my desk. Other paper that I think I may need gets filed alphabetically.
For example the copy of my birth certificate is in a folder marked birth certificate. The car gets a folder all it’s own with folders for ownership and repair. My lease and any other issues dealing with my home/office rental go into a folder with street name, in this case Menlo Ave. on it.
My approach to computer files is roughly the same. Each blog has it’s own file on my desktop and in email. Within those folders are sub-folders for images, code snippets and what-have-you.
Each client also has a folder in email and in documents. When I invoice I do so out of an invoicing folder – not sure why, but I wanted them all in one place. I keep a log on each client and often actually duplicate emails into the log – I use this to track time for them and/or for me.
I’ve got a Current Projects file which is about my projects, an Idea file.
It’s all pretty organic. I also realize I don’t make much distinction between business and personal files. I know which are which, but since I work at home I don’t see much reason to separate them. Others will, I’m sure, disagree.
While there are theories of organization and you’ll find professionals who will help you get organized there way (the really good ones will help you figure out what works for you), the whole reason for the organization is for you to be able to find what you need.
We’ve all got our own methods. For example, I will not depend on my phone to keep phone numbers because I know as soon as I drop it they’re gone. So I maintain a paper phone book. I also keep a couple of small notebooks on the desk to write down phone messages and anything else I want, including sometimes notes from meditation.
Every now and again I’ll go through the files, either on my computer or the paper files and dump what I’m reasonably sure I won’t need.
And my computer is backed up, automatically offside with Carbonite. I love Carbonite because I don’t have to think about it.
John Soares is an authority on getting organized. His book on Intelligent Productivity, although for writers, has sections on files that might be helpful.
How do you organize your business files?
Image from http://www.sxc.hu