Not finding documents and information we need quickly can be a real time vampire. It wastes our time and energy as we spin our wheels.
“According to a McKinsey report, employees spend 1.8 hours every day—9.3 hours per week, on average—searching and gathering information. Put another way, businesses hire 5 employees but only 4 show up to work; the fifth is off searching for answers, but not contributing any value.” Source: Time Searching for Information.
I know when I switched to the Mac platform they told me documents were much easier to find with the search and I didn’t need to file them. NOT! I find that it brings up far too many documents that don’t have my specified search request. It is much worse than on the windows platform. This is my one pet peeve with Apple. Thank goodness I have some other methods I use to help me find documents quickly. Here are my time management tips in organizing and filing documents.
3 Systems for Finding Documents Faster
Color-coding documents: To find certain physical files faster I color-code them. All client files are in Green folders, admin are in yellow folders, marketing in blue and so on. Color-coding works with physical file folders and sticky notes too. Calendar tasks categories are also a great use of color-coding, so go crazy and use it to work to your advantage. I know people who use 5 or more colors on a spreadsheet to differentiate different sections. The use of color is over the top for me.
Naming standards: Naming standards are important because sometimes files might be saved in a location other than the folder they should be in. Naming standards help you identify the type of document. If you have a client it might be CLIENT_NAME_DOCTYPE for example CLIENT_SMITH_CONTRACT or PR_MAG_ARTICLE. Setting standards can make organization with your team much more efficient and effective in filing and finding documents.
Version numbers: I have seen people mark their initials on their version of a document or a comment like new or even new-new (Really?! that one used to drive me crazy). This versioning technique or lack there of, does not help when you come back to the document at a later time. It could even be you, who is looking back at it and not remember which one was actually the latest. Don’t do this to yourself and others. Create a clear versioning standard so that everyone knows after they update it the number or letter gets incremented so people know which document is the latest and greatest. So when I get the file and update it goes from V1 to V2 (no adding of my initials), then the next person raises the version again to V3. It makes it easy to find the latest version or go back to previous versions. Some people like to include the date, that is fine but consider it may be edited more than once on the same day, so this doesn’t always help to make sure everyone is working from the latest version.
As most time management tips advise up front planning will save you time and energy in the long run, this is no exception. The best way to make your day-to-day more effective and efficient is to plan and coordinate some standards and processes ahead of time. Integrate this into your employee training and ensure planning is an important part of your productivity culture you are creating
As Jim Rohn used to say, it is simple to do and also simple not to do. Commit to your efficiency and take charge of your time!
Penny Zenker is a Focusologist, international speaker and best-selling author. She is passionate about helping people live more fulfilling lives by reducing stress, improving communication, and creating greater passion and focus. Her experience includes building and selling a multi-million dollar business, managing business turnarounds, living abroad for 16 years, and worked 5 years a Tony Robbins business coach. She will challenge you to think differently and inspire you to be your best. Her easy-to-understand frameworks and methods make implementation fast and easy.