Effective Organisation Sometimes Means Filing Your Napkins

Effective Organisation Sometimes Means Filing Your Napkins

It’s often said that the best organisation and filing systems are the ones you use. If you need help figuring out what to do with an avalanche of paper scraps and jotted notes, then here’s a simple solution.

Photo by redjar.

Office productivity blog Work Awesome says a decluttered desk is key to getting your work done, so finding a filing system that you’ll keep up is really important. For some workers, the more steps a system has, the more likely they are to ditch it and let papers pile up in an overflowing inbox.

One solution is to keep a very simple system going — one that doesn’t rely on micro-managing every last slip of paper. In fact, if you’ve got a perfectly readable napkin with a sketch of your Next Big Idea, file the napkin itself rather than figuring out how to transfer the info into yet another data management system.

I’m serious about filing the napkin. If the options are firing up Photoshop to redraw the sketch into something “worthy” of filing, leaving it on the desk, or putting it away for quick retrieval when it’s actually needed (but not before), I’d always choose the latter. Sometimes it’s faster to put a single business card in its own folder and file it than to enter the contact information into Outlook, especially for short-term contacts that don’t need to go in a permanent record.

Hit up the post fore more suggestions on creating a filing system you’ll actually use — including why hanging folders aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be. Of course, if you have a method that’s been working for you, there’s no reason to change. Check out our previous tips for getting — and keeping — your current filing system under control.

Got a great filing system that works for you? We want to hear about it in the comments.

Declutter Your Desk with a General Reference Filing System [via Work Awesome]


  • if it is the content you are filing, rather than the execution (napkin sketches are great for post-rationalising design intent;), just take a photo.. it lasts longer
    and you can tag it, file it, copy it..

    if you do need a faithful reproduction of the original, setting up a jig in your office is a handy way to scan simple sketches or even large (unscannable) sheets of paper, and you can correct the parallax error later

    ahh, technology

    • Ditto that, digitising with a camera or scanner means less paper to juggle. I store all my napkins, whiteboards, warranty receipts etc in a simple and fairly flat folder structure. It’s always been sufficient for retrieval, and is easy to transport, duplicate, backup and reorganise.

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