Oh lordie…boring office stationery is my total bug bear! Why? Because with a little effort there is lovely stationery to be found. So you can turn the office from a drab working environment to a bright, cheery one!
This is where organisation becomes fun and addictive. You’ve finished the decluttering and now you’re planning your storage and space.
Inserting colours into your filing system, is not only a practical and useful thing for you to do in order to be productive with your paper and work. But it’s also really nice to look at – which hey…makes you more productive! Win Win!
So who has these drop down files…?
Boring right? Now if you must, these will do and just below are some tips to make these look good and work well.
But if you can afford it and have the time to bring your filing cabinet to life, then here’s how and why you should colour code your filing system!
Why Do We Colour Code:
A lot of people do go down the colour coding route when organising paper. For instance you might have:
Green folders for finance
Blue folders for Utility bills
Red folders for files that need attention
This is fine, however, there are some problems with organising this way if you want to maintain the system long term.
Generally, when you buy suspension files in different colours, the manufacturers determine the number of green/ red/ yellow etc files inside a pack. For example, the set below had only one of each colour in the pack. So you might end up with a situation where you need more green files for your finances than were supplied. What do you do then? Buy more? That could be annoying to do, time wasting and expensive.
The other scenario is that upon setting up your newly organised filing system, you do have enough of the different colour files. And this is great. But files will break, categories will expand and more paper will arrive. So you’ll need more files. The simple solution is to grab another suspension file, but it mightn’t be the same colour. Or you go off and buy more of the same colour to keep the coding in sync – but they’ve discontinued the type of file.
So these reasons are why I’m an advocate of ONE plain colour on all the files. And then…you use the label tabs to show the colour coding.
So I recommend to buy all white, all red, all blue….or even the green ones above. Just keep them all matching.
The label tabs will be white, but can be coloured using markers, pens, or as I did – post-it notes folded over.
That way, if you need to change the filing in any way or for any reason, your files will always be uniform and it’s a lot less hassle to change the label.
In my filing cabinet I have used white throughout. These files were bought in The Container Store in New York and I LOVE them! They are letter size folders so they are smaller than I expected and what you usually get. But they work. You can find them here: Buy here
The labels came with the files, and as I said, I just put coloured post-it notes over them to differentiate the different categories of paperwork.
Now for the technical part!
When I went through my paperwork, decluttering and organising, there were many many different types of documents that I needed. Each document was put into a category. These categories were sub-categories of five larger categories. And they were:
Green = finance
Blue – business development
Pink = marketing and PR
Yellow = products and shop
Orange = my designs
So, for example, I assigned green to Finance. And within the large Finance category there were subcategories such as:
My past tax returns
Or in the yellow category, subcategories included:
All the financial subcategories were given green labels and all the shop subcategories were given yellow labels etc.
So when I open my filing cabinet, my eye is drawn to the category I need because my mind remembers by colour. I don’t have to rifle through any other file or category type. And then within the coloured section, I can read the label to retrieve or put away the piece of paper I need.
This makes finding what I need very easy and quick. And more importantly, it makes it quick and easy to put paper away! Everything is streamlined and organised. And it has not budged since I did it. Showing that taking the time to create an organised system will work with you and for you for a long time.
More to note on the labels. Before the idea was to zig-zag the label and by all means if you like this and it works for you fire away. What I’m saying here aren’t rules, just ideas for organisation. And I think that having the labels in the same spot not only looks better but is also allows for easier retrieval. Your eye can scan up and down in a straight line instead or zig-zagging. Fractionally quicker perhaps – but it works!
Taking time out to create an organised system will work for you and with you for a long timeSarah
If you’re investing in new suspension files, you better make sure you get the size right. You want a little bigger than A4 size – because you know, not every piece of paper is A4 size. And you want to measure between the bars in your filing cabinet.
Finally, some files can get pretty big and can make even the nicest filing cabinet look messy. In this instance, I find putting a bulldog clip over the suspension file helps keep paper in place. It also gives the file a little extra strength. And…it looks really nice!
Keeping it cheap but cheerful!
Now, not going with the standard ones is going to be more expensive. So if you can’t afford that and have to stick with these green ones…then follow these rules and your cabinet will be just as pretty!
1. Keep them facing the same way:
UNIFORMITY is the KEY to organisation. Repeat ad nauseum! Keep files facing the same way. On one side of the suspension file there will be instructions on how to use them. Don’t have this side facing out if you want your files to look well. Again, this is all decoration guys! It’s not essential to organisation, but I honestly believe items should be placed as they’re supposed to be placed. They ‘keep’ for longer. And I believe that if our things look well, then we take more pride in our work and the space around them stays organised for longer. It’s these little details, if you want to do them, that makes your filing look like it belongs in a magazine!
So have the other side facing out. There may be lines on that side. This is so you can label the file. Now don’t do that because, again, if you ever need the file for a different category, then marking out the previous category will make the file look messy. You want to get the organisation as close to right as possible first time so that any organisation later is simpler, quicker and easier. So if your labelling the file, use the tab.
2. If they’re broken, get rid of them:
These files can break easily. Especially if you’ve had them a while or it’s a particularly large category. As soon as one starts to give way, get rid & replace!
3. Place the labels at the same point:
I’ve mentioned this above. It’s even more important here to make your cabinet look pretty.
4. Don’t clash!
If you’re going to use the bulldog clips to grasp the file, keep the bulldog clip very plain in colour. The green is harsh and boring. And a colourful clip would liven them up. But don’t get ones with patterns on them. It’ll clash with the harshness of the file.
See in the photo below. The white folder will take any clip and it’ll look good. But the blue clip with polka dots on the green folder would look fussy. It’s all asthetics dahling!!
5. Keep labels the same
Again, to counteract the harsh green…and to keep uniformity in check, make sure that any labelling you do is all the same. So if you do printed labels, keep them all printed. If you’re writing labels, keep the ink the same colour; keep it all lower case, or all upper case. Remember…uniform!
Getting paperwork organised is a big job. And I would recommend you declutter before investing in your files. When you know you’re categories, you can count them up and buy the necessary amount. Again, this saves time and means you are paying for exactly what you need.
Getting a filling cabinet in order and working well is a very important task – especially if you’re in business. It’s important to know your paperwork is in order and you’re able to file when you need to. It will help your productivity, speed up your administration and help with your tax affairs. It will also give you peace of mind!
Share this Post