Archiving; we do it every day for our paper documents, but is there enough structure for us to find it all again?
Most of us hate it: documenting, tidying up and archiving. Many organisations lose a lot of precious time on retrieving information that has to be ‘somewhere’ in the archive. Especially with the amount of information available today, it’s important to create structure and separate the essentials from the side issues. This means: saving relevant things in easy-to-find places, and throwing out unimportant paper documents. The latter proves to be harder than the former. Archiving is an art, so to speak!
In order to maintain an overview and allow your business to work in a structured and efficient way, it’s necessary to regularly tidy up. It’s obvious that you can’t work peacefully when your desk is cluttered with stacks of paper. You will likely waste a lot of time looking for the right papers, the latest version of a piece you were working on, your boss’ feedback or the meeting report.
How do you create structure?
- Create a system of letter boxes or folders that is practical to you. And more importantly, stick to that system!
- Don’t just use that handy system for your paper documents, but for your Outlook and electronic folders as well.
- Use at least one folder per job.
- Once a month, take time to sort through the stacks of paper and immediately throw them away or archive them.
- Put everything away in your letter boxes or folders at the end of the day. A clean desk is a clean mind!
Archiving means finding
Where we often go wrong is by saving everything we may need at some point in the future. But archiving and retrieving only works if you archive the right papers! In a sound and structured archive, you won’t need to search long to find exactly what you’re looking for. A good archive consists of:
- Only the definitive version of documents
- Subdivision that is easy to understand
Tips for a good archive:
- Think of an archive that has the same structure digitally as it does physically.
- Only save the definitive versions of documents.
- Make sure all information is complete, before archiving it.
- Archive regularly.
Go through your archive once a year, and throw out what no longer needs to be saved, if you need any help with it, let us know, it would be our pleasure to help you!