Organizing business paperwork takes dedication and consistency, but once you have systems in place and you (and your employees) use them, it becomes a routine part of business life. Here are my ways to make organizing business paperwork go more smoothly.

1. Shred it and Forget it

When paperwork is past its “keep until” date, shred it if it has personal information. If you have a small business you may be fine with a small shredder. For larger businesses, there are also services like Shred-It that pick up shreddable materials and turn them into recycled paper. 

2. New Year, New Folders

At the beginning of your financial year, create new folders you can use throughout the year. Keep in mind the 5-20 rule! Any folder with fewer than 5 items in it should be combined with another, and any folder with more than 20 should be subdivided into other folders. This streamlines searching for documents, saving you time and money!  

3. Financial Paperwork

At the beginning of each year, archive the previous year’s financial documents. Keep them somewhere they can be accessed if needed, but don’t get in the way of day-to-day activities. 

4. Employees

It’s a good idea to do a yearly checkup on employee training. Make sure everyone who needs access to files has it, and that they know the naming rules and conventions of your business filing system. Having codified rules for filing paperwork that all employees know makes sure that your filing system stays in good shape. 

5. Software

Make sure that your accounting and filing software is up to date so you can take advantage of the latest technology. Outdated software can slow down your business and make day-to-day operations stressful.

Staying on top of paperwork throughout the year, and indeed on a daily or weekly basis makes it much more manageable. Anecdotal estimates suggest that the paperwork we deal with in a month is the equivalent to the paperwork that our parents dealt with in a year. And it’s equivalent to what our grandparents dealt with in their lifetimes! So keep at it, do what you can to reduce the amount of paperwork that even enters your business, and create great habits that help you stay on top of it all!

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