Three Easy Steps to Year End Records Organization
As the new year approaches, tax time may be the only thing on your mind, but taking the chance to reorganize can help you feel more in control and ready to take on your taxes. Here are three steps you can take to get yourself organized and ready for 2015.
Files becomes disorganized mostly because we are afraid to throw things away. To make this step easier, make two piles-definitely throw away and maybe throw away. Any files 7 years or older can be thrown. If you are not sure about a particular document, keep it in the maybe file for now.
The structure of any file system is not set in stone. We all have special areas of our business that need files and no set template is going to be completely satisfactory. After the purging stage, your current filing structure may be just fine. However if you do need to rethink your system here are some questions to ask yourself:
Our Current File Categories Growing to Big?
For example you may have started a file entitled employees, only to find that current employees and past employee records were making the file too massive. Breaking down a single category into sub files can take the burden out of one file.
The same question can be asked in reverse. Are there some sub-category files that you thought would grow, but may only contain a few documents. You may want to merge this file with another smaller category to keep things from getting too complex.
Remember that maybe throw file? Go through it now to reconsider the documents you may want to keep. In light of a new file structure, some might get filed in new categories or simply tossed once see with more organized insight.
Finally, it’s time to archive your files from around two years ago. Clearly label your boxes or drawers with the date. Leave out last year’s documents to get ready for tax time. You will feel a sense of relief knowing you are not only ahead of the tax season, but also completely organized before the first Christmas party invitation.
Review the complete line of year end storage solutions: Storage Boxes for Year End Organization
Law Firm Records Management: The Basics for Keeping Cases Organized
Not every law practice will find one set of rules useful for client records organization. The dynamics of different offices may take some strategic and creative thinking to create the perfect system for increased efficiency and productivity. Here are some starters.
Records Storage Location
One centralized location for records is key to a productive law office. When everyone has their own independent filing system-chaos ensues!
If you maintain a large firm, a records storage room with check in and check out procedures for files keeps things organized without too much supervision.
For smaller firms, records storage drawers in a designated area of the office can serve the same purpose, but on a smaller scale.
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Creating Easy File Identification
There are many approaches to file organization ranging from alphabetic to numeric to alpha-numeric. Every system has its advantages and flaws. So every firm needs to determine what works best for their practice.
Regardless of the type of system used, however, there are some basic tips for keeping all these systems efficient.
- Add identity references to each client file
For example, if a retained client that has numerous sub files, or several open cases, you should label the file with two names—client name and litigant name and case: Johnson E/ Phillips copyright infringement In this way any sub file created gets organized in the Johnson Electronics Bankers Box because of its client prefix, but also gets organized within that box by its suffix reference to a specific case.
Regardless of your organization system, Johnson Electronics files always go the same Bankers Box.
If sub files exceed one box, then all the Johnson E boxes can be neatly stacked with the Phillips copyright infringement sub file organized alphabetically within those client main files.
- Organizing by areas of law
If a firm practices in various areas of law, organizing cases by area of practice (bankruptcies, liability ,etc. ) with different sets of drawers can keep clients who may in retainer for various cases across category from getting mixed up.
3. Color coding for optimized organization
Within every client file a system of colors can make identifying the file you are looking for faster and easier.
For example, our client Johnson E with two cases open may have Johnson E/Gordon employee dispute with a red label and Johnson E/ Phillips patent infringement with a green label.
Clients files can be stored together in one box or organized by category of law in separate drawer systems; either way, you will be able to quickly and easily identify and grab that file and get moving on the case.
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Back Up Files on Paper
In our digital age, paper documents may seem unnecessary. But digital data can be lost or compromised with the push of a button.
Let’s say one of your small business clients is selected for audit. The IRS wants to see receipts for travel, meals, and entertainment for the year. Speedy access to backup documents can prevent part of the expense deduction from being disallowed. If this happens that means increases in taxable income, a new tax bill, along with penalties and interest. With the right organization system, those crucial documents are always on hand.
Preventing Paperwork from Becoming Overwhelming
As your accounting business grows, so will your records storage. The tendency is to try and keep everything. But excess can lead to confusion and disorganization. Maintain a scheduled retention and destruction policy so that only the most essential documents are kept and dated documents destroyed.
4 Ways to Get Papers In Order Before The Year Ends.
The year is drawing to an end and it’s a good time to make sure files and paperwork are in order. Closing out the year in an organized way will help you not only start next year right, it can also make tax time easier. Here are several tips to get your year-end paperwork in order:
Know What to Keep: Do you ever get confused when going through paperwork because you’re not sure what you need to hang on to? Check out the Chaos To Order Records Retention Document for a good list of what paperwork you should save and how long to save them.
Box it up: Once you determine which paperwork you need to keep, like finished projects, customer files, and yearly financial documents, put everything into Bankers Box boxes. Because they can be stored flat and are easy to assemble, it’s always good to keep these boxes on hand for any time you need to archive. Before filling up the box, always weed through documents, folders and binders and purge what you can, that way you can determine what size box is best.
Create Systems: How does the paper flow in your office? Do you have ample space to store and retrieve the documents you use frequently? Good filing systems are essential for optimal organization. If you aren’t good at keeping up with files in drawers, consider using a Literature Sorter to keep projects separated and off your desk to avoid looking cluttered.
Clear the Shelves: When was the last time you paid attention to the shelving in your office? When you’re in a space every day, you can lose track of how cluttered it can look. Spend some time clearing through the shelves, eliminate what you can and properly store the rest. Magazine Files are great for keeping the shelves in order. Keeping magazines and/or documents labeled by type on the shelves not only looks great, but it will also give you easy access. When storing magazines, set a number limit of what you will keep. For example, keep only the current 6 months of a subscription. Then, when the latest issue arrives, toss the oldest.
Taking the time to implement a few organizing strategies now will help you button up this year and look forward to an organized 2015!
Written by: Monica Friel, President and founder of: Chaos to Order
Storage solutions for your business can range from a few storage boxes to an entire drawer system. Start here to determine to right storage solution for you. You can also find helpful tips for getting ready for tax time.
Drawers Or Boxes?
If you have limited storage space and require frequent access to files, Bankers Box® storage drawers would be the best choice. If you have a lot more storage space available and need to access your files less often, storage boxes are the best solution.
When you choose drawer storage…
- You can stack records higher and save space.
- You can eliminate the need to stack and restack boxes
- You cut record retrieval time in half
When you choose box storage…
- You can move and handle records more frequently with stronger boxes
- You can store less frequently accessed records safely with safe closures
When you choose a drawer/box combo…
- You can store active files in easy to access drawers
- You can store inactive files in safely sealed boxes for long-term storage
Choosing the Right Storage Drawers
If space-saving is your primary concern, than drawers provide the best storage solution. Choosing the right type of drawer determines how high you can stack your drawers to save space, and the right size determines the size of the contents of the drawer.
- Maximum Space-Saving Drawers stack up to 10 drawers high.
- Extra Space-Saving Drawers stack up to 7 drawers high.
- Basic Space-Saving Drawers stack up to 2 drawers high.
- Letter/Legal Drawers accommodate both letter and legal size documents – This size drawer has the versatility for storing records of varied sizes.
- Letter size drawers accommodate letter size files. This is the perfect drawer if letter size documents are all you need to store.
- Legal size drawers accommodate legal sized files offering an additional three inches in width for larger record size.
Whatever your drawer choice, with the stacking ability of drawers, you can maximize your record storage space, save on retrieval time and eliminate box restacking—all while maintaining easy access to all your important records.
Selecting the Right Box
Different boxes have different purposes. Knowing which Bankers Box storage box to select, requires understanding your storage needs from type and strength, to size and assembly.
- String & Button boxes offer maximum security and reliable closure, even when the box is overturned.
- Lift-off Lid boxes allow easy access to records. Look for locking lids to securely store your files.
- Attached Flip-Top Lid Boxes prevent lost or damaged lids.
- Specialty Boxes provide specialized storage solutions for unique document sizes
- Frequent access, heavy-duty boxes hold up under heavy use and can be stacked higher.
- Occasional access, medium-duty boxes hold up under moderate use and moderate stacking.
- Infrequent access, basic-duty boxes are suitable for basic use and lower stacking.
- Letter/legal boxes easily carry and accommodate both letter and legal size paper.
- Letter size boxes are perfect for high capacity letter size paper storage.
- Legal size boxes are 3” wider than letter boxes and accommodate legal document storage.
- Presto™ instant assembly – sets up to 5 times faster than basic assembly boxes
- FastFold® quick and easy assembly – sets up to 4 times faster than basic assembly boxes