How to Create an Organizing System for Hanging File Folders

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creating an organization system

Disorganization costs you time, money, and is a major source of frustration. If you’ve ever had to keep a client waiting, or spent an entire weekend looking for that important mortgage document, you know the feeling.

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution for disorganization: An easy-to-follow, streamlined filing system. Reorganizing your hanging file folders and optimizing your system will save you time, ensure you’ll never misplace those files you need, and give you peace of mind. But where should you start? Here are a few tips for creating an effective organization system with hanging file folders:

Start with an Outline

Whether you’re creating a filing system from scratch, or you’re reorganizing a file cabinet in disarray, create an outline before anything else. This will give you a chance to map out your system, evaluate what works, and adjust it to fit your exact needs. Start by listing broad categories, and then fill in subcategories underneath. For example, for a home office, the major categories might be “Finances,” “Home,” “Automotive,” etc. Then, add subcategories for each. Each subcategory would get a hanging folder in the cabinet. So the outline might look something like this:

  1. Finance
    1. Investments
    2. Banking
    3. Mortgage
    4. Taxes
  2. Home Related
    1. Receipts
    2. Appliance Warranties
    3. Bills
  3. Automotive
    1. Insurance
    2. Maintenance Records
    3. Registration

Use a Simple Naming Scheme

Filing systems for small businesses and homeowners don’t require complex naming schemes. In fact, the simpler it is the better, and short descriptive nouns are ideal. Once you’ve written out your tabs, you can alphabetize them by category. For example, hanging folders in the Finance category would go A to Z, and the same goes for files in the Home Related and Automotive categories. Medical offices and legal firms often alphabetize according to client name, and some choose to a numbering scheme to differentiate types of files. Remember: Make it easy for anyone to follow.

Nestle File Folders for Organization in Hanging Folders

All of the sub categories will have a hanging folder assigned to them. For example, the Taxes folder in the Finance category will receive its own hanging folder. Inside the Taxes folder, though, you can nest file folders for individual tax years. All documents related to 2014, for instance, would go in a single file folder. This will help keep your main folders organized, and help you find information more quickly.

Color Coding Helps Keep Things Organized

Color-coding your hanging folders by category makes the cabinet more scannable. By using a specific color for Finance, another for Home Related, etc., the system will be easier on the eyes, and help you quickly differentiate types of folders. Also, staggering the title tabs by category helps to simplify the organization. For example, Finance tabs would line up on the right, Home Related tabs in the middle, and Automotive tabs on the left.

Keep Only the Essentials

There’s no reason a receipt from 1992 should be in your records. In fact, old, unnecessary documents like these are organization killers. Don’t let your filing cabinet get backed up and disorganized. Be sure to purge old documents that you no longer need regularly. Auditing your filing cabinet once or twice per year and purging outdated documents will keep your files organized, eliminate the need to search for stuff, and keep your cabinet from turning into a junk drawer.