On The Desk: Active Files | Giftie Etcetera: On The Desk: Active Files

Saturday, February 22, 2014

On The Desk: Active Files

Most organized people have files (to capture things that they needed to keep, but not access daily or weekly) and planners (for information on-the-go). But what about the stuff that is too big for your planner, but you need to access all the time? 

Unlike my permanent (or semi-permanent, since I occasionally purge them) regular files, I have files that are what I consider "active." I bet most people have a few folders that always need to be available right at their desks. That might mean a household file on the kitchen counter, where you keep current bills-to-be-paid, contacts for the kids' school, or a list of household chores that need tackling. In my case, I need a file for work.

I bought a file box that I could carry with me. I mostly work from home, but I needed to be able to carry it if I work elsewhere. (In the course of normal events, I'd throw a file or two into my tote bag to work remotely. I'd only bring the whole file box with me if I were to leave town for several days on a road trip, as is often the case during hurricane season. If you don't ever have to evacuate, a more permanent file container is probably fine. Still, a file box is cheap, often going on sale for under $10.)

One thing I did was to hang four color-coded files. I don't actually put folders in the hanging files, as I find that cumbersome. I just slip the manilla folders behind the colorful hanging files. I also put some blank manilla folders in the back of the box to make filing more convenient.

I used washi taped-on sticky notes (since nobody will see this except me...oh, and my Loyal Readers) to identify what each color means.

It's difficult to tell in the picture, but the Active file is green, the Pending is yellow, the Hold is red, and the File is blue.

Active means a project that I am currently working on. That project is also listed in the project pages of my work planner.

Pending means I am waiting on someone else or something else (like a certain date) to deal with the project. For example, I am about to send my boss the results of a web search that she asked me to complete. I believe that some follow-ups should be done, based on the search results, but don't want to move forward without her approval, since I don't have enough information about her needs to decide whether to follow-up on my own. While waiting for her response, the project will go in the pending folder.

Hold is a different category than pending. Hold just means information that I am holding on to for now, but may eventually discard. For example, my boss gave me some handouts about the set-up of the company. They are important for now, as I need to learn these things about my new employer. But, eventually, I'll know this stuff, and all these handouts will no longer be relevant. Then I will toss them.

File is for things that I need to keep but that will be referenced occasionally, so the more permanent file would not be appropriate. For example, the HR handbook goes in this section. A project that recurs yearly might go in this section.

I also write all over my file folders. I use erasable Frixion pens to label the files, both because I can erase mistakes or changes and because I don't have time to deal with labels.

There is no rule that says you cannot write directly on a folder!

(Note: In the photo below, all information is made up. I do this so that I can respect any information that should remain confidential.)

The components of my labeling include:

*name of the project/vendor/customer,

*WORK (indicating that this does not go in my personal files),

*date assigned, and

*date due.

Don't forget to make an index of the files in your planner and update it whenever you create a new file folder.

TIP: Use the inside cover of the folder to make any reference notes or if a log of contacts regarding the project is required.

This system would also work well for teachers as a work file or stay-at-home parents as a kitchen file.



nursefriendly said...

I really like the fact that you label everything and have a index of your files and a legend for your file box. I have always made the mistake of relaying on my(lack
of) memory and forgetting the system I set up.

Diana said...

Great post. Frisian to label your folder, brilliant! Using them to make notes on the folder itself, wow. I used stickies but they so often would get lost. Those Frixion pens the best.

Anna said...

I recently discovered your blog & have been enjoying some of your organizational tips. This idea with the folders is going to help me with one of the problems I was having. Thanks for posting it. :)