I offered some tips in an earlier blog about file management on your computer. It's the same principle on paper, except that you have to have a place to put paper. First step? Um, get a place to put the paper. Duh. Depending on the size of your mountain, buy a file cabinet, get one of the many organizational systems in office supply stores, or if you must, use boxes. You'll need hanging file folders and manila or colored folders too. If you want to get fancy, buy yourself some folder labels to write or type on. One thing you can't buy - patience! It's an easy task, but it does take time.
So now take a deep breath. Get a piece of paper and think about the major categories of things you need to file, whether you're a business or you're handling home filing. For example: Building/House, Utilities, Insurance, Warranties, Car, Computer, Taxes, Telephone, Legal, etc. Each of those categories is your major division point. Think then about what goes into each of those. For building or house (business or home), you'll want a file for maintenance, roof, snow removal, plumbing (structural, repairs, etc), electrical (likewise), and any other topics for which you have paperwork. These are all items that need to be taken care of for the structure, the operations of your business. Obviously you'll have more or less, or entirely different categories than what I'm listing.
For Utilities, you'll want the actual monthly invoices. You can split them into categories if you wish - it depends on how many records you have to manage. For Computer, perhaps instruction manuals, warranty information, receipts, etc. You get the idea. Go through each major category and write down the subdivisions that make sense to you.
After you have this figured out, get a hanging file folder and label it with one of your major categories. Label the manila folders with the subdivisions and put them in the hanging folder. Go through and get all your files made and put away.
Now the fun! No, put down the matches - I told you we're NOT having Filing Flambe! Take the top piece of paper on the mountain and decide where it goes. Is it a letter about an inspection? Is it a paid utility bill? Is it a special offer for travel? Put it in the appropriate place. Rinse......repeat. If you go through everything that's loose around the office (or home) and categorize it this way, you'll find that the mountain has indeed become a molehill!
Now of course the key is to maintain order. Promptly file all paid bills you need to keep. Put away new reference manuals or equipment information as soon as you get them. If you keep on this weekly (or less often if you have less paper) you'll have an orderly office all the time.
I've seen files that were labeled with the name of the item within it. I've seen files that were too general. I've seen files that make sense only to the person who set them up. The key, especially in a business setting, is that by using the kind of sorting I've described, absolutely anyone can find what they need.
As always, if you just can't handle it and need someone to come to the mountain, I know a fabulous, ORGANIZED assistant who can help you: Holly@LightseedsOffice.com!