The paperless work environment has changed the business landscape forever. Do you remember when the phrase paperless actually mentioned no hard copies could ever exist? The phrase paperless office came from Business Week article in June 1975 titled Office of the Future.
As the percentage is high adapting to paperless, many still prefer the option to stay within their comfort zone to print and manually file hard copy documents. It takes time to develop a routine of storing information digitally. One simple, basic idea is to match your manual folders and subfolders with your digital. This will help create consistency for your file management system.
Advantages to transitioning to digital
- Technological advancements with search engines have become more intuitive.
- Electronic filing system increases office space by reducing or removing file cabinets
- Quick, easy and effortless access to e-statements, invoices, online payment
As advance as the digital age has brought us, there are challenges that have come along with this technology. The biggest drawback to this are no set rules for digital file methods; however, there are a few guidelines that can help you set up and locate your documents.
Setting up your digital filing system
Step 1: Begin with a clear plan
Visualize how you want to structure your digital folders. Create a layout on paper to visualize how your digital filing system will be structured. Yes I am describing digital filing system and it is important to first have a clear snapshot before proceeding. For many it is using paper to flush out a plan of action how the end result will be achieved. Probably the most important element when planning your digital filing system is giving your folders and sub-folders descriptive names that are logical to you.
Step 2: Categorize folders by topic
Organize all your folders by topic. A few examples are banking, marketing, and travel. The file name provides a snapshot to find information quickly by scanning for a name, by date or other significant indicators.
Step 3: Name sub-folders to fit folders
Create sub-folders within the categories you have named. Your sub-folders need to fit with your folder topics. Make all your folders and sub-folders concise, unique and indicative what they contain. Think how you look for your information. What is natural for you to find your information?
Step 4: Use of letters, numerals, and special characters
Digital order is sorted numerically and alphabetically. For example by date April will be before January because the order of the alphabet. To simplify processes, use numerical order e.g. 01 (January), 02 (February), 03 (March), etc. Information you access regularly move to the top of all your folders by inserting a number followed by a dash or hyphen e.g. 1-marketing or 1_marketing.
Step 5: Keyword Functionally
The order of importance rule is essential digital filing date in and time. Dates order: Year, Month, Day (e.g. YYYYMMDD, YYYYMM). Time: Hour, Minutes, Seconds (HHMMSS). Use the hypen (-) or underscore (_) to define keywords.
Do not use spaces or other characters such as: ! # $ % & ‘ @ ^ ` ~ + ; . ; = ) (
Paperless office reduces cost, increases physical space and has numerous time saving benefits. By staying consistent and following a logical format, your digital office system will work efficiently, effectively and productively for you.