First in a series on FileMAP®: Introduction.
Why do so many professionals continue to keep their files out in front of them in mounds, piles and stacks on desks, credenzas and tables?
It’s not the filing they fear, it’s their filing system. It’s not the process of putting something away that’s troubling, but what happens after the file disappears from view and when, weeks or months later, they have to find the file again!
This is the first in a series on FileMAP®, my integrated system and cornerstone for consistent categorization of both individual and shared information for work teams, departments, and organizations.
Check back to this introduction for links to all of this series’ posts:
- Post #2: 80% of what we keep we never use again
- Post #3: If I file it, can I find it?
- Post #4 – Filenaming strategies: The elegance and efficiency of a shared filenaming strategy
- Post #5 – Filenaming strategies: Elusive Email Management
The FileMAP® Principle
Here’s a reminder worthy of posting on your desk or wall:
The foundation of a successful filing system is categorization,
and the cornerstone of categorization is consistency in file naming.
This consistency must span three areas:
1) paper documents in folders, binders and hanging files, wherever located
2) electronic documents in named folders on your computer and network drives
3) email folders and archives
In my workshops and seminars, I explain the critical connection between filing systems and daily work processes, i.e., what individuals and teams do in their jobs. Some common examples that everyone understands are budget, clients, contracts, financials, photos, projects, reports, research, training, and vendors. Obviously, someone in human resources will generate different documents and emails than someone in sales or finance.
The starting point of consistent categorization is simple: make the names of your filing categories — paper, electronic or email — the same as the names for each of the specific elements of your work processes. These category names become the tabs to your hanging folders and the names for your electronic document and email folders.
The FileMAP® Benefits
Never again will you need all your files piled on your floor or desk. Your computer desktop will no longer be crowded with a hundred unrelated files. Your inbox will never be a thousand emails deep.
As I often say, you’ll never have to scrunch up your mouth and mutter, “Give me a few minutes, I’m sure I can find it.”
Instead, you’ll smile and simply say, “Just a second, I know exactly where it is.”
That’s what consistent categorization will do for you!