Creating a File Index is the final step in establishing a well-organized, easily managed filing system. It’s your road map to maintaining your file system, so that it’s always functional and well organized.
The File Index: What It Is and Why You Need One
Welcome back to the Organize Your Files Week series! Although, Organize Your Files Week is technically over, we’re continuing our quest of conquering home office paper clutter once and for all!
How are you doing with the challenges? Is your paper clutter shrinking and your home office becoming more organized?
If you’re just joining us, welcome! It’s never too late to jump into Organize Your Files Week! Start here, then follow the series’ links at the bottom of each post. Take the challenges one at a time until you can kiss paper clutter buh-bye!
We’ve been busy during this series! So far, we’ve gathered and sorted our papers, created Action Files, constructed file names that work, and set up a functional and organized file drawer. Phew! Hopefully, you’re seeing the rewards of your effort in the form of less paper clutter and a more organized home office!
Today’s post is a quick one, but it’s just as vital as the work we’ve done so far to conquer paper clutter and reclaim our home office as a productive space. Let’s talk about the file index: what it is and why you need one!
What is a File Index?
A file index, also known as a file inventory, is exactly what its name indicates….
It’s an index of your filing cabinet! It includes the names of all of your folders and a short list of items that belong in each folder, if necessary.
Easy peasy, right?!
Why You Need One
A file index may seem like overkill, but it’s an important part of your filing system, especially if you aren’t the only person using the files!
By referencing your file index, you can:
- Locate items quickly,
- Complete regular filing drawer purges in a time-efficient way,
- Easily add files to your existing filing system,
- And swiftly return items to their assigned spot in the filing drawer.
Having a file index is especially helpful if more than one person will be using your filing system!
Maybe your business and personal files are in one filing cabinet and your spouse uses these files, too? Perhaps you have an assistant or a business partner who accesses your filing system? A file index helps everyone find necessary items quickly and return them to the appropriate file, so that they can be found easily the next time they’re needed.
If you work alone or are the only person accessing your filing system, don’t automatically assume you don’t need a file index!
I don’t know about you, but there are definitely times when I don’t remember where I filed an item from one day to the next. By consulting my file index, I can avoid wasting precious time and find my item quickly.
My file index is also helpful when it’s time to return an item to the file drawer, but I can’t remember if I filed it under “Business Records” or “Taxes.”
Convinced that you need a file index?
Awesome! Let’s get started!
How to Create Your File Index
To create your file index, make a list of your existing files.
If you’ve been working through the Organize Your Files Week Series with us, this part will be easy, because your file names are fresh in your mind and your files are decluttered and organized!
Once you’ve listed all of the files in your file drawer or file box, look through your list and see if there are any duplicate files or mysterious file names that don’t effectively represent the items that are filed within.
I recommend that you type your file index in a document or spreadsheet. As you’ll see in the section below, your file index will change any time you alter your filing system. You’ll want to be able to quickly and easily make those changes!
Your file index is a living document. It changes whenever your filing system does.
Type your file index in a spreadsheet, print it, and store it in the front of your filing drawer in a hanging folder titled “Index.” Then, whenever you add or delete a file, change a file name, move items to different files, or make any other changes to your filing system, make a note on your file index.
Once a month or once quarter, depending on how often your filing system changes, update the spreadsheet, print the new version, and put it back into the Index file.
I know you never hear me talk about routines here at Calyx and Corolla (did you catch that sass?! ;)), but adjusting and updating your file index needs to be a part of your regular filing routine!
Not Just for the Office
Another time to put your file index to work is when you’re traveling our out of the office and expect to have some down time.
If you’re like me, you often take mail and papers to sort when you’re traveling. Having your file index handy during this process can make you more efficient.
Remember when we sorted our To File stack and labeled items in the upper right corner? Well, this is when that action really comes into play!
When you’re opening mail or sorting items while traveling, waiting to meet a client, or pick up a kiddo, add the file name to the upper right corner. Then, you can quickly file those items once you get back to the office, because you know exactly where they go.
But what happens if you’re sorting and can’t remember the file name or exactly where the item belongs? You can reference your file index, label it quickly, and move on to the next item!
When I first started using a file index, it felt excessive. But now that I’ve been using it for awhile, I see how it’s helped to keep my filing system in excellent shape!
The File Index is the final step in creating a well-organized and easily managed filing system. It will help make filing a breeze and help you to keep your filing system organized. Take a few minutes to create your file index today, then update it regularly, and you’ll never lose time searching for a filed item again!
Don’t forget to pin this post for future reference! Of course, you’re always welcome to come back and visit me, too! 😉
OTHER POSTS IN THE ORGANIZE YOUR FILES WEEK SERIES
Today’s post is part of the Organize Your Files Week series!
Check out the other posts in the series:
The File Index: What It Is and Why You Need One
Are you finding the Organize Your Files Week challenges helpful? I’d love to hear about your successes and answer any questions you may have. Just comment below!
Thanks for being here today!