Filing for Efficiency: It's More than A to Z!

You may have a filing system in place, but is it as effective as it can be? Terry Prince, a professional organizer who has been working with small businesses and large Fortune 500 companies for over 20 years, shares tips on the two key aspects to efficient filing: creating the files and maintaining them. By taking the time to set up a smart filing system now, you’ll find it will be easier to maintain in the long run.

Create a Filing System

Keep your main system as simple as possible. First, you may want to start by identifying broad category sections, such as “Active,” “Business A to Z,” “Administrative,” and “Projects." Next, determine where each of your files will fit into which categories. If the number of files within a category grows large, you may want to consider creating sub-categories to keep your system manageable.

Prince creates a hanging file for each of the main categories. You can label your files with Avery Design & Print Online and Avery White Hanging File Tabs, which are easy to format and print using our templates.


- In the “Active” category, keep all files related to subjects that need immediate attention.

- In “Business A to Z,” keep general information, filed alphabetically.

- In “Administrative,” store files related directly to your job—for instance, correspondence, expenses, insurance forms, etc.

- In “Projects,” file projects by name or job number.

If you have files that are temporary or will change often, Avery Removable Filing Labels come in handy. You’ll be able to recycle folders for use again and again, and they can keep your files neat and updated. It also makes it easy to subdivide into multiple folders as the project file grows.

Another tip to creating an efficient filing system is to use visuals elements to help you find files quickly. Prince suggests assigning a color to each of the main category sections. Colored file folders and Avery Assorted Extra Large Filing Labels can be coordinated to match each category section. The Extra Large Filing Labels can accommodate graphics and up to three lines of text for detailed file descriptions—perfect for organizing files within each category, whether alphabetically, numerically, or using your own unique system.

Maintain the Filing System

Now that you’ve got your system set up, the rest is easy. Keep an up-to-date list of all file names. That way, when you’re ready to start a new file, you can check the list first to make sure you don’t duplicate. As you create new files, it can help you establish a consistent uniform file naming system.

Avery Round 3/4” Color Coding Labels are a great way to keep track of the new papers that cross your desk. Place a label on each of the documents that you keep, using the color that matches the file folder. Spend a few minutes at the end of each workday to clear your desk and file each document in the appropriate color-coordinated folder.

If your office has large central files that are shared by many people, try a “library” system of filing. Using this system, anyone can remove a file, but only the designated file manager can re-file it—just like a library. That way, the file will be returned to its proper place.