• Andrew Ampers Taylor

Daddy General has the answer

Home Filing System

Note: The system I am about to describe may reduce your filing system from a four drawer filing cabinet to a two drawer cabinet. First the more complex manual system, then a far more simple computerised version.

When I was in the Army, I was posted to Paris during late 1959, and noted the British Army filing system was totally different from any I had seen.

And if you want to try this manual system out, you need to purchase two hardbacked A4 Exercise books, one of which should have an AtoZ index. It is important to buy very good books as the latter, especially, will have a lot of use. However, this can all be computerised as I explain at the end. But first you should know how the manual system works.

The first step is to place an empty file folder into the cabinet. Do not label the index tab at this point.

In the plain exercise book, in the left hand margin, add numbers downwards from 1 onwards to the end of the page.

If, for example, you want to use the name “Amazon Purchases” put it in the first folder under the number “1”. At this stage you may want a coloured sticker to write the document number on so it stands out when you stick it in the folder.

In the first exercise book, against the figure 1, write Amazon Purchases. This book is for all your files in number order.

In the second (indexed) exercise book, under A write: 1 - Amazon Purchases. Then under P, write: 1. Amazon Purchases.

It really is that simple.

In the filing cabinet, you will see the number of documents in each file folder. One folder may have 1-10, the next folder may have 11-25 and the third folder may have 26-26. Each folder will be filled and if there is a thick folder for one subject, it will have a number all to itself.

If a folder is filled up, and you have another document for Amazon Purchases which you have to put in another folder, go to the plain exercise book, put in the number (say 35) and write that in. Then go to the tabbed exercise book, and after 1 – Amazon Purchases, add & 35, (Amazon Purchases & 35,). The comma after 35 is in case you have further documents to enter.

Note, if you know you will receive a lot of ongoing documents, you will leave space in the file folder.

It worked well in the late fifties, but I guess the army will all be computerised now. Instead of the two exercise books, it would be easy to computerised such a system, and with computer search facilities, you would only have to enter the file name once.

A computerised spreadsheet would be easy to set up.

Field one:  Document number

Field two:  Full document name

Field three:  Folder number

Field four:  File cabinate drawer (for larger systems)

An extra field for notes might be useful but optional.

I prefer the manual system, if the computer is down...

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