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Paper Organization Challenge – Day 13: How to Name Files

Paper Organization Files

It’s filing day! Over the last few weeks we’ve gathered all our paper, sorted it into broad categories and purged what is no longer needed. You’ve decided on a system and have shopped for supplies. Now it’s finally time to select names for our files and get them put away.

If you’re the type the runs in the other direction when you even hear the word filing, stick with me – we’re going to make this easy. How? By remembering that this filing system is for you. You are the one who is going to need to retrieve your documents, so use words and a system that you feel comfortable with.

How to Name Files

Although there is no right or wrong way to name your files, here are some useful guidelines for you to consider:

  • Always think retrieval. When you need to retrieve a document again, where will you think to look for it?
  • What is the first word that comes to your mind? Your first thought is often your best thought.
  • Use generic words (for example: Car vs. Honda, Insurance vs. Allstate, Bank Account vs. Wachovia). This way, you won’t need to change your file names when you buy a new car or change service providers.
  • List keywords first for alphabetizing purposes (for example: Insurance – car, Insurance – home, Insurance – life).
  • If you like the idea of keeping your broad categories together, you can create a hanging file for the broad category, and insert individual folders inside as sub-categories. For example:
    • Banking (a separate folder inside for each account)
    • Credit (a separate folder inside for each account)
    • Insurance (auto, health, home, liability, life)

Again, if you keep it simple and remember to think retrieval and how you would think to look for a particular document in the future … you’ll be just fine.

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