While choosing a filing cabinet seems like an easy task, you want to make sure that you get what you need. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of time and money. Some people argue that with the rise of scanning, filing cabinets are no longer needed. However, there are some legal documents that must be kept for years, while others are just not as practical to access if they’re all scanned in. If you’re confronted with the need for a filing cabinet to keep your documents handy and tidy, it’s important to choose the right one. Below are some tips to help you make the right decision.
1. Declutter Before Buying Anything
If you’re seeking to transform your office from a multi-surface paperwork graveyard to a clean, orderly and efficient space to work in, you need to declutter. Just buying a piece of furniture such as a filing cabinet is not going to provide the transformation you seek unless you do the decluttering work first.
You will need to go through all your papers and decide what needs to be thrown away and what needs to be kept. This step is important, as it will give you a true sense of the size of filing cabinet you really need. If there’s too much clutter around, you may overestimate your needs and buy a filing cabinet that is too big. Plus decluttering is a great habit to get into if you want to learn good office organisation habits.
Once you’ve decluttered, you can start looking for a filing cabinet that can handle all your files while still allowing 20% of the cabinet space to be free of files. This allows you to access the files easily without overcrowding.
2. Determine Your Needs
What sized papers do you need to store? Sometimes important documents are inconveniently large. Fortunately, there’s a filing cabinet for every need. If you require a drawer that caters for larger sized papers, make sure you put that on your list when shopping for a filing cabinet.
Similarly, if you want to be able to access your files instantly, a traditional filing cabinet might not be for you. Different people prefer different types of filing systems. You might instead opt for a mobile file cart for easy access, or you might like to use ring binders instead. Choose what will be the easiest solution for your paperwork situation, and adopt a method that you will find simple to apply, use and maintain.
3. Choose the Right Details
Most people use filing cabinets with rails for hanging files. Some filing cabinets have special high drawer sides that can accommodate hanging files without rails. But either way, you’re still using hanging files. Some organisational experts have recommended using plain folders that stand up in the drawers with the help of movable metal plates. Plain folders can be moved about in the filing cabinet much more easily because they don’t have the entangling metal ends that get caught on other folders. Whatever option you choose, remember that the way your filing cabinet holds the files can have a big effect on its ease of use.
Another detail to watch for is the extension of the filing cabinet drawer. Some filing cabinets don’t extend out the full length, instead offering only a three-quarter extension. This can be frustrating when you can’t reach into the back of the filing cabinet to pick out your files.