Create an Index – With any book there is an index which explains what you should find inside. Records should be the same. Consider taking your monthly bank statement for example and use that as a front index for all of the corresponding receipts you should attach in behind. The front page is a quick summary that relays all the pertinent information quickly and the attachments support your summation. *Helpful Hint – Use envelopes to store loose/small receipts. The envelopes can be attached in such a way that you can access, edit or add additional receipts.
Multiple Copies – Don’t be afraid to photocopy or print duplicates, (you can always recycle later). If you have copies in more than one spot you will be able to tell more than one version of your story. For example if you keep a deposit slip for your bank account, you may attach it as a receipt to your statement. (As outlined above) However if you also photocopy it, you can keep it in a separate file for Deposits and Deposits only. This allows you to view your information in more than one way. One would be Any/All Banking Activity within a Date Range. (Bank Statements) The other would be Specific Banking Activity within a Date Range. (Deposits File) Also if you happen to lose a copy you may be able to find it in the other location.
Colour Coding – Assigning a Colour to a Form, Folder or Item can instantly relay information and serves as a quick visual cue. It can let you know where you are in a process or establish value/priority to a task. As an example, perhaps you have Work Orders in one colour (Pink) and Invoices in another (Yellow). If you see a mountain of pink you know that you have to prioritize getting the work orders completed so you can convert them to invoices. Hard to tell if your inbox is all white.
Delete vs Void – If possible ALWAYS Void something rather than delete it. Deleting can create questionable gaps in your story. When you void you often have an opportunity to say why you’re voiding even if you have to do it multiple times. You may look like an idiot but at least you’ll remember why.
Back Ups – If nothing else make sure you back up your files, and verify that your back ups are actually working. A computer can crash. A hard drive can be stolen. Paper can burn or get wet. Nothing is fool proof but if you ensure that you have both a Hard Copy (Paper) and a Soft Copy (Electronic) then chances are if you find yourself in a pickle you’ll be able to get yourself out.
Consistency – Being consistent in your processes and how you create your files makes it much easier to search through and makes errors or gaps much more visible. Try printing file folder labels instead of handwriting them. Keep the same naming convention when creating electronic file names. Ensure you staple your forms together in the same way, in the same order. Taking 5 extra minutes now can save you hours later.
At the end of the day you need to do what works best for you. However it’s always wise to bear in mind that others may need to understand what it is you’re doing. Have fun organizing!!!