How to Set Up a Filing System

Creating an effective and efficient Filing System

First determine categories, then label files by category as in the example below:

  • Expenses: Advertising
  • Expenses: Electric
  • Expenses: Telephone
  • Insurance: Health
  • Insurance: Life
  • Legal Docs: Rent Agreement

By categorizing first, you keep all items within each category together and it makes filing and locating files quicker.
Use Hanging File Folders and 1/3 size clear tabs - this ensures enough space to fit categories and to set up a filing system

Use manila file folders inside the hanging file folder. Label the outside of the manila file folder the exact same way as you label the hanging file folder tab. This way, you can remove the manila file folder from the hanging file folder and then anyone can replace it easily because they are labeled the same.

Cut the tab off the manila file folder, giving a flush look to the drawer (the only thing sticking up is the rows of plastic hanging folder tabs, again making them easy to see and read. This also makes the transition to the new tax year a breeze.

Stagger the categories in rows. For example, all Expenses may be set up with the plastic, hanging file folder tab left flush. All Insurance Files can be set to the center, Legal Docs to the right, and so on. This greatly increases the speed at which you can scan the file labels and keeps like-files together in one section.

If you really want to get organized, use colored hanging file folders to sort categories visually. For example:

 Red for Expenses, 
Green for Bank Accounts (and income files)
 Yellow for Info files (Use Info as a category for all the informational stuff, i.e. info: printer)
 Blue for Legal Docs, etc.

Print your labels on a return address label (about 1 x 2 5/8" size) you can type each label onto a sheet of 30 on your computer and print all at once. Save your label page as a template for easy label creating whenever you need it.

Keep extra hanging file folder tabs in your office supplies. Hand write them with a black fine point sharpie when you're in a hurry to file something and when you have some free time, type and print nice labels using your template page.

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