Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Simple Plan: Keeping Track of Files

Since the last couple of posts have been vaguely on the theme of 'keeping stuff organised', I thought I'd share a quick tip that works for me in terms of keeping tabs on the active files I have at any given time.

Actually, I stole modified this idea from one of my Clients who I subcontract to. Their files all had different coloured cover sheets depending on the type of file it was, ie document service, tracing enquiry, field visit etc. I didn't notice the difference for some time as they usually emailed me a black & white scan rather than an original but sometimes I would receive files by post and wondered why the first sheets were different?

So I took it one step further.

For ages, I used to just throw the files into my bag as they were. Where not provided by the Client, I would create a job sheet for each file detailing the Client, Subject, reference, type of job, contact details, and room for date/time of enquiries plus notes. This I would always put in front of the other documentation provided, usually the whole lot held together with a paper clip.

While it was something, it still wasn't very satisfactory a system. Bits of paper might detach from one file and end up floating around in the bottom of my bag, or get mixed up with others. Dog-eared files were the norm.

So then I hit upon the idea of getting A4 plastic pockets of various colours to separate files by type:

Blue - Document service
Clear -  Field visits
Green - Tracing enquiries
Red - Insurance claims or other investigations
Yellow - Repossessions
Not only does the paperwork remain tidy and cohesive, it also allows me to easily tell at a glance how many jobs on I have to complete - and of what type. Also, it allows me to easily reorganise the order in which to make attendances or enquiries throughout the day based on priority, proximity, or some other factor.

For the sake of only a few dollars, the actual resulting change in organisation and productivity was quite noticeable.

Working smarter, not harder!

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