It was rumored, incorrectly, that the advent of the computer would put an end to paper files. It seems it has only increased the number papers we have around plus now you have to keep track of digital files as well. If you are one those who has gone completely paperless in your office, you can stop reading now.
For the rest of us humans, especially those of us affected by ADHD, filing paper and digital files can be a hassle. Especially if you fall into some of these traps:
Complicated, highly detailed filing system –
The trap here is the system, while it may be elegant, is onerous and therefore you don’t use it. The thinking is you will just file the paper(s) away later when you have time.
Perfectly matching filing system –
The trap here is that if don’t have the right color label or file folder, or however the system is made uniform, you don’t make the file or label putting it off until you have the right matching supplies.
Different systems for your paper and digital files –
The trap here is that the systems are not interchangeable so that you need to remember two systems instead of one. Often this results in inconsistencies because you can’t remember the rules for each set up.
How to stay out of these traps:
Keep your filing systems simple, the more complex, the less likely you will utilize them.
Don’t create color-coded or the like systems unless you always keep a bountiful amount of supplies. If you are out of some filing supply, it is just one more deterrent to getting stuff filed.
Try to have your paper and digital files mirror each other as much as possible that way regardless of paper or digital you know immediately where to look for the file and know immediately how to label newly created files.
For example, I group my paper files under the same categories that I tag my digital files for the most part. There are some files that will only exist digitally and some files that will only exist as paper, ever. But for the most part they are similar so I know where to look on my computer and in my paper files to find something. This is especially helpful if I can’t remember whether the file is paper or digital. I only have to check one area of paper files and one area of digital files. Recently I needed to find my coaching certificates that I have earned to send in for my re-certification. Very quickly I could ascertain which I had digitally and which I had hard copies of. Now I know which to scan and which to attach to my re-cert application.
In conclusion –
The simpler the system the better and have your digital and paper systems mirror each other as much as is reasonable and workable. The key is for it to take little time to find something. Also, as I tell all my ADHD affected clients in regards to paper files, if you have to make the choice as to easier to get or easier to put away, make it easier to put away. The logic is that when you need something you are motivated to get it. But once you no longer need it or are done with it, there is not similar motivation to put it away. Happy filing.