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Taming the paper monster: 3 tips for organizing files, records retention and email management

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Office Management,Office Organizer,Performance Reviews,Records Retention

A comprehensive document management system can help your business boost productivity, improve the bottom line and stay out of legal trouble.

Here are three ways to organize files for easy retrieval, establish a record retention schedule and tame your wild email inbox.

1. Find paper files—instantly

Use color coding to your advantage. If you have a different-colored folder for each of your main projects or for each department you regularly work with, finding what you need will be a snap.

Use broad headings for all your files. Choose a broad term like “Expense Reports, 2008,” and file all your procedural memos there, along with copies of expense reports.

Try subdividing broad headings. In your “Budget 2008” hanging file, you could label individual folders with categories such as “Salaries,” “Performance Reviews” and “Production Costs.”

Learn more about Taming the Paper Monster: Records Management, Compliance and File Security

2. Follow record retention guidelines

Every employer must comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s records disposal rule, designed to protect employees from falling prey to identity theft. The rule stipulates that you must “reasonably” destroy paper and electronic records containing identifiable data on job applicants and employees, such as Social Security numbers and credit histories.

However, the rule doesn’t mandate any specific type of disposal method. For paper files, it suggests shredding them; for electronic files, erasing them or using some other “responsible” means.

A records retention schedule ensures that your organization keeps the records it needs for operational, legal, fiscal or historical reasons, and then destroys them when they’re no longer useful. You may base your records retention schedule on your own experience, research of legal mandates and on what other companies are doing.

Tip: There are 7 categories of records you must keep more or less forever. Find out exactly which ones those are in our best-selling special report. Taming the Paper Monster gives you a customizable blueprint for developing your company's formal records management system.
Get it here.

3. Organize office emails: 4 techniques

Whether your email inbox is cluttered with spam or work-related email, the following techniques can help you gain control of your wild inbox.

1. Move task-oriented email messages out of your inbox if they will take longer than five minutes to handle. Drag each message to your Task folder and change the subject name, so you’ll know its topic at a glance. Then, delete it from your inbox so that all your to-do’s are grouped in one place.

2. Drag email to your Calendar to schedule time for yourself to work on it. Estimate how much time the task will take, then drop it into your schedule.

3. “Add a reminder” when you use a follow-up flag, and the message text will turn red when it’s overdue. That makes it easy to see pressing tasks at a glance. Once you’ve completed the task, manually mark it “complete.”

4. Develop a color scheme for flags, using two or three different colors. You might designate blue for anything to do with your boss and red for a high-priority project. Even if your inbox is full, you’ll be able to spot the most important items.

In Taming the Paper Monster you'll learn:
  • The 8 steps to effective records management
  • The 3 life-cycle stages of every business record
  • Rules of thumb for disposing of duplicate, unnecessary and obsolete records
  • Best practices for storing records electronically
  • 9 data security measures to consider
  • ... and much more
book cover Plus, you'll also find:
  • Record-keeping requirements of all the most important federal laws
  • A record retention guide to help organize everyone in your office
  • An appendix with additional information
Get your copy here!

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