Do you love to file? I don’t!
Most people would rather let a mountain of paper take over their desk than take the time to file it away. Fortunately, you can make your papers easier work with. And in the process, your relationship with paper files might just go from “It’s complicated” to “It’s love”.
Two words that make all the difference?
Yes, I am talking about using printed labels on all your file folders.
I know what you’re thinking. “How could it possibly matter whether I use a label maker to print a label — or just scribble it with a pen?”
The short answer is, we don’t have an answer. But here’s what we do know. Every professional I have ever worked with, many of them initially skeptical, has agreed that printed labels make files easier and better to work with.
I have three theories about why printed labels have such an impact.
First off, you will need a label maker. I like this one (no, I do not have an Amazon affiliate link — although I have recommended this so many times that I wish I did!)
Other label makers can work, too. When you order your label maker, be sure to also pick up some batteries and extra tape for it.
Next, you will need simple file folders. Most office supply rooms and cabinets have boxes of letter-sized manila folders. If you need to re-order, these folders from Amazon do the job well.
Once you have your supplies, set them up within easy reach. Ideally, you want to be able to grab blank file folders and the label maker from where you sit at your desk.
When you are ready to tackle that stack of paper in your in-tray, sort the items that you will need for action or reference — then put them in folders and print corresponding labels.
One common mistake professionals make at this point in the process is overthinking their labeling system.
I know that staying organized is the name of the game. Of course, you want to set up a Master Filing System that’s functional, robust, and beautiful. You might even want to develop an indexing hierarchy with prefixes — or a special naming convention to capture every possible type of a document, letter, or notice you might come across.
But in this case, simple is best. Don’t worry about having your labels follow a special nomenclature. Don’t sweat the possibility of ending up with duplicate folders. Just sort papers, put them in folders, label them clearly, and keep moving!
Now, it’s your turn. Have you tried using printed labels for filing? How has it worked for you? Any tips or tricks to share? I’d love to hear them!