4 Tips That Keep Your Paper Organized
A digital filing system — which involves keeping electronic copies instead of paper copies of most documents — can save you time at home or work. At its best, a well-thought out filing system can reduce clutter, save time in sorting through filing cabinets to find information, and secure sensitive data behind computer firewalls and robust passwords.
Know What Can be Shredded
Once you scan documents into digital records, it’s a good idea to shred hard copies to reduce information exposure and clutter. You can’t do this with all documents, however. Titles, land deeds, some health records, and anything with an official seal should be kept. Depending on what your business niche, you might be required to keep originals on hand for up to ten years. So it’s very important to understand applicable compliance regulations before shredding anything.
Organized & Secure Your Digital Filing System Structures
A digital filing system is more than a bunch of documents saved to your computer. Think of the computer or server as a virtual filing cabinet. Create easy-to-understand directories and folder structures. For example, personal finance might go in a directory named “Personal Finance.” Create sub-folders for things like “auto accounts,” “checking accounts,” “insurance.” Each sub-folder can have additional folders for separate accounts, policies, or people. Save documents in those folders with file names that identify the document and the date. Bottom line, find a file naming convention that easy to remember.
Protect Digital Files
Employ strong computer security measures to protect the confidential information stored in your digital files. Lock computer access with passwords that contain at least eight characters and include numbers, letters, and special symbols. Use up-to-date virus protection and be vigilant when browsing the Internet or opening email attachments from unknown sources.
Create Streamlined Processes
Make sure everyone who access your electronic files understands the digital filing system and follows the same process for storing, naming, locating, and deleting files. When possible, put computer fail safes in place that will not allow a file to be permanently deleted without a certain level of permission or a password.
For medical, dental or financial service offices, where hard copy documents are routinely scanned, have dedicated and locked shred bins available. That way personally identifiable and sensitive information is safely stored in between professional shredding service pick-ups.