Simple File System

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Virtuoso Virtual Assistant brought you Assessing a File System and A place for everything recently and this post is a follow on.

Now we should consider both these subjects and create a simple file system which requires you creating a skill in putting things away where they belong.

  • First rule of filing – bin all unnecessary filing that has been in piles for months or years and hidden in cupboards or draws that you have not pulled out anything from that pile during the last two (2) years.

Filing is something many people have a problem with – you are not alone.  But being organised can only make you more productive, it can simplify your life and make it less stressful.

Being organised does not take a complicate system for filing away your items whether it clothing, or documentation or even your pantry, it simply requires you to have a place for everything, and get into a routine or habit to put things back where they belong after use or create a permanent home for new items.

Whether you’ve got a complicated filing system you would like to simplify, or whether you have no filing system at all, let’s take a look at how to simplify the system and keep things perfectly organized.

Reduce before organizing

The first rule to organizing is that you should eliminate the unnecessary before organising at all. If you’ve got a filing drawer that’s overflowing, or stacks of paper that need filing, that will take forever to organize — and even then, it will be hard to find stuff.

Here’s how to simplify your documentation and files before you organize:

  • Put everything in one big pile. If it can not all go in one pile, make more than one, but look at them as continuations of the first pile. If you have folders that are a mess, take them out and add them to the stack. Virtuoso Virtual Assistant recently did this with home filing system and reduced the files by two thirds. Yes, it did take time but the reward was in the finished product which gave more space and most importantly less dust.
  • Go through them, one at a time. Pick up each document or folder and decide what needs to be done with them. If you can not see yourself needing it in a couple of months, toss it. Default to toss (or shred, or recycle). Get rid of as much as you can. I have never regretted tossing a document.
  • If you can not toss something, try to route it to someone else. Get it off your desk.
  • If a document is absolutely critical, and you’re sure you’ll need it again, then it needs to be filed. Let’s take a look at how to set up a simple system for doing that.

Simple filing

Virtuoso Virtual Assistant has read David Allen’s Getting Things Done, which recommends that you use a simple, alphabetical filing system.  Just use plain manila folders or folders with labels (you can buy a label maker if you like), creating a file for each client, vendor and/or project.

Virtuoso Virtual Assistant believes that most people only need one drawer for filing. Now, Virtuoso Virtual Assistant admits that there are some jobs that require much more than this, but for the average employee (or self-employed person) or home filing system, one drawer is all you need. And if you limit yourself to one drawer, you force yourself to toss out unnecessary files when the drawer gets full.

Don’t overthink this. Just create a file, and file it alphabetically. Keep it simple.


Elizabeth, Virtuoso Virtual Assistant