Are You Filing the Right Way?

By Pamela Wong

Pamela is a Trained Professional Organizer based in Oakville, Ontario and is the owner of Zen N Organized. She helps homeowners and small business owners transform their homes and home offices into organized spaces. She has a practical, non-judgemental approach to organizing. Her objective is to create functional and harmonious spaces for her clients.


As a professional organizer who focuses on home offices and small offices, I often get asked the question, “How do you do your filing?”

The answer is not a simple, “Let me show you how …” but it has a lot more to do with the person who will be accessing those files and his/her personal preference.

The truth is that we are all different, one person may name a file “car”, while another person may name it “auto”.  Some people are “filers” while others are “pilers”.  Some people are visual and need to see everything while others prefer to hide all their documents inside a filing cabinet.

So what are some of the things I would suggest?

1. Categories

Depending on the topics, sometimes you may find it more useful to file documents in chronological order rather than alphabetically.  Naming your annual tax returns by year (e.g. 2020 tax, 2019 tax), especially with the most current year at the front or on the top, would make the most sense.

Client files, on the other hand, would probably be much easier to retrieve when filed alphabetically.  Using the company name or the clients’ names and organizing them alphabetically will save you lots of time.

2. Colour code

If you prefer to categorize your documents by something more visual than words, then colour coding would work for you.  Here are some examples, green for money (banking files), blue for official (legal files), red for important (wills and power of attorneys).

3. File names

Name both soft and hard copies with the same name for easy retrieval and to avoid any potential confusion.  They key is to keep file names simple that you will remember.


4. Adjustments

Once your filing system is established, review and tweak them on a regular basis to ensure everything is working.  The idea is to have an effective filing system that works for you!

Remember we are all different.  As long as it works for you, then it is right way to file.

Pam from Zen N Organized

1 Comment

  1. Janet Barclay on May 13, 2024 at 10:23 am

    I developed a system for my home and business files a long time ago, and it’s still working well (other than me not regularly discarding outdated documents). Somehow I’ve never managed to be consistent with my digital files, and I usually end up archiving them all and starting fresh every couple of years.

Leave a Comment

Have you read these posts?

Kitchen with lots of items on the counter, around the peninsula and on the floor

Address the Elephant in the Room: Helping Your Friend Tackle Clutter

Stacks of coins with a clock in the background

The Cost of Clutter

An open floor plan of a living space with a kitchen and 2 large windows with grey drapery. The room is surrounded by boxes. A female is stacking a box onto another. A male is carrying a large picture to the corner near the door.

Moving? 25 Things To Get Rid Of Now