The paperless work environment has changed the business landscape forever. Do you remember when the phrase paperless actually mentioned no hard copies could ever exist? The phrase paperless office came from Business Week article in June 1975 titled Office of the Future.

Keyword functionality has made the shift to digital copies more common than hard copies because technological advancements, search has become more intuitive. An electronic filing system saves on office expenses by reducing your cost on furniture as well making your business processes more competitive. Quick, easy and effortless from e-statements, invoices, online payment to debit machines is transport via the internet.

As advance as the digital age has brought us, there are challenges that have come along with this technology. The biggest drawback to this are no set rules for digital file methods; however, there are a few guidelines that can help you set up and locate your documents.

Setting up your digital filing systemgo-paperless

Step 1: Have a plan.

Visualize how you want to structure your digital folders. Think what you will need to see in a snapshot. Name your folders and sub-folders with descriptive names that are logical to you. It is probably the most important element when planning your digital system.

Step 2: Categorize folders by topic

Organize all your folders by topic. A few examples are banking, marketing, and travel. The file name provides a snapshot to find information quickly by scanning for a name, by date or other significant indicators.

Step 3: Name sub-folders to fit folders

Create sub-folders within the categories you have named. Your sub-folders need to fit with your folder topics. Make all your folders and sub-folders concise, unique and indicative what they contain. Think how you look for your information. What is natural for you to find your information?

Step 4: Use of letters, numerals, and special characters.

Digital order is sorted numerically and alphabetically. For example by date April will be before January because the order of the alphabet. To simplify processes, use numerical order e.g. 01 (January), 02 (February), 03 (March), etc. Information you access regularly move to the top of all your folders by inserting a number followed by a dash or hyphen e.g. 1-marketing or 1_marketing.

Step 5: Keyword Functionally

The order of importance rule is essential digital filing date in and time. Dates order: Year, Month, Day (e.g. YYYYMMDD, YYYYMM). Time: Hour, Minutes, Seconds (HHMMSS). Use the hypen (-) or underscore (_) to define keywords.

Do not use spaces or other characters such as: ! # $ % & ‘ @ ^ ` ~ + ; . ; = ) (

Paperless office reduces cost, increases physical space and has time saving benefits. By being consistent and following a logical format, your digital office will work efficiently, effectively and productively for you.