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Strategies for Organizing Your Information

 As with most things, when it comes to organizing your information, there is always room for improvement. This is the case whether you are organizing information for yourself or you are organizing information for your business. While there are plenty of ways to organize information, the sheer amount of options might make it difficult to choose. Keep reading for some strategies for organizing your information so that it makes sense to you.

Manage Your Documentation

Documents are the bulk of any information system. Therefore it is vital to have this part of your system down to a science. Depending on the number of categories you have created for this purpose, you will have a lot of things to do. If you just have your documents on the computer, all you will need is time to label everything and organize the electronic folders. Create storage to keep everything on, and a few backups just in case one of your file sets gets deleted. You also need to learn about document management. If you are wondering what is document management, that is perfectly understandable. Document management is the creation of a centralized file system where it is easy for anyone who needs access to store and search files for what is needed.

If you have paper records as well, you will need to have enough cabinets and sets of drawers to fit everything, as well as the time to organize everything and label it. If you are working on labels for a paper system, it is recommended that you get a label maker. Label makers are wonderful, versatile and will save you time as well as keep your hand from cramping from having to write out all of the labels. Try the same document management model that you created for your electronic files while tweaking it to fit your paper filing needs.

Create a Place For Everything

There needs to be a place for everything. This will ensure you do not misplace anything when trying to put it away. This takes a lot of time, planning and energy, but it is more than worth it once you get it all done. If you are strictly electronic, you probably have already done this in the document management phase. If you decide to use flash drives or external hard drives to store information on, you will need to find a secure place for them. Try a locked drawer in your desk or in a closet where there is authorized access only. Also make sure that the external storage units are properly labeled. There is nothing like having to plug in every external device in an attempt to find the one file or section of files that got wiped.

If you are doing paper records as well, you need to take into account how much storage you have and what you can get away with doing with that storage space. Do you have a whole room dedicated to file storage, or do you just have room for a few sets of file cabinets in the corner of one department or office? How much do you have to store? Do you have room to store new documents when all is said and done? Depending on your answers to these questions, you might have to make some room, especially if it is policy to have a paper copy of every single little document.

Get Creative

If your office is relatively small, and you have a limited amount of room, consider consolidating things as much as possible, and dedicating a storage closet to the paper files. If you have a whole room for files, take some quick measurements and get some shelving installed. This makes sure you can have an easier time of finding things. Also label the sides of the shelving unit so people can tell where things are at a glance.

Make Sure Everyone Who Has Access Knows the System

A system can only operate at maximum efficiency if everyone who has access to the system knows how to use it properly. If you are the only person who is using this information system, this does not necessarily apply. Especially as you have already sorted everything out to your liking. However, if you have done this for your business or workplace, this is an important step.

This can be done in a couple of different ways. You can either have all of the involved people watch and participate in the system as it is created. Or you can create the system by yourself and figure out a way to train everyone else. Ideally, your file system should be pretty intuitive. You shouldn’t have to spend too much time writing a manual. If you are finding that there are steps missing in the training, you can fix the manual as you need to. 

Have Specific Categories Under Generalized Subjects

When you are organizing your information, it can be very tempting to give each individual specification its own folder. However, it comes with a lot of issues, one of which is how much time it might take to find the one file that you are looking for. You do not want to be rushing around and then not be able to find a file for over half an hour. To prevent this, consider filing things in specific categories under generalized subjects. Don’t get too specific unless it is necessary. There are some things that you will never be able to find again. Not even if you are the creator of the new document management system.

Whatever general category you put something in, make sure to associate it with both the specific category and the general category. If a file can be found in a few different places, make sure to associate it with those places. It is a good idea to keep copies there if need be. If you have binders for your paper documents, make sure they are clearly labeled withe the same kind of tabs. This is important especially if you have a business with several different similar components. For instance, if you own and manage different properties, you might look into getting a binder for each property. You may also consider having the same tabs for each binder. 

Organization is the Key

Organizing your information is the first step to making your working life much better and easier. Most of your time is spent having to either save or search for different documents. Therefore, simplifying this process is a no-brainer. This will also help if you ever have to move offices. It will also help you name a successor or new manager for a specific department or the entire business.

Keep this article in mind as you plan out how to organize your information. Hopefully you will be able to get into a headspace rather easily and get everything organized in record time. This is going to be time-consuming. There will be many moments where you will want to throw in the towel. But remember it is worth it in the end. Also keep in mind that you will be able to easily switch things around. Especially in the event that the system you created becomes outdated.

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