OFFICE Tip 67: File Cabinets

File cabinets are a necessary component to every organized office. Whether you have just one filing cabinet or an entire wall of them, it is important to designate each file drawer to a specific topic and then file within that drawer accordingly. Most file systems are alphabetical but, depending on the content, numerical order may make sense for dated files. If filing in order of importance or by putting the most frequently used files in front, it is important that either only one person is creating that system or that there are hanging file folders with clearly labeled tabs as a place holder so that the internal file folder can be removed when necessary but put right back into the same place when returned.

When using a two drawer filing system in a home office, it will be important to separate home files from work files. In general, the work or more active files would be in the top drawer and the home or reference files would be in the bottom drawer. Whether you have a home office or business office, a locking filing cabinet ensures the protection of the information contained within.

If you come across two similar files when looking in your reference file cabinet, be sure to either merge them into one category or be clear about labeling them so that each is a distinct topic. This is also a good time to see if there are any files that can be eliminated, archived, or destroyed.

If you choose to color coder your files, a good way to start is to organize the information into general categories, then file in the color-specific file folders for each topic related to that category. Often using hanging file folders, with individual categories written on tabs, can help you easily find the information you are looking for. Within each category, you can use different color file folders to represent different topics. This adds a visual reference to help you remember where the information can be found. For instance, in the category of Finance, you may use green file folders for the specific files related to you financial affairs.

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