How to Create a File Index

Now that you have set up your Action File and designed your Reference File systems, it is time to create a File Index to provide a reference so that any file can be located quickly. When updating is needed, new files can be added within the structure of the existing file index to maintain consistency.

Designing Your File Index:

  1. Choose a color for each file based on what the file contains. I recommend a tri-colored file system using red for critical, financial, and medical files, blue for personal and family items, and green for work and volunteer files.
  2. Input all file names into a spreadsheet.
  3. Sort alphabetically.
  4. In your spreadsheet, use the ‘highlight’ feature to highlight each file in the appropriate color. To be more productive, highlight all files of a certain color, say, green, at the same time. Then move on to the next color set.

The attached template of a sample file index uses an alphabetical file system with subcategories as needed within the main categories.

How to Use the Index:

Once you’ve set up the index, it can serve as a reference point for which files you have and where they are located. In our sample template, the red and blue files are combined into one set of alphabetic files. The color coding provides visual separation between specific types of files to make filing easier.

The printed index can be stored an ‘Index’ file folder at the very front of the Active File cabinet.

Partial Sample File System Template, Prepared by Lisa Mark, C.P.O., The Time Butler

Active files can be stored in front of reference files, or next to your desk. Archive files are files that need to be kept for compliance reasons. They can be stored somewhere out of the way so as not to take up prime space.

A Few Suggestions:

  1. Avoid black writing on red folders if going through chemo as this is difficult to see.
  2. If someone in the family or organization is color blind, refrain from using both red and green file folders; pick one. Ditto blue and orange or other combinations that are difficult to see for those who are color blind.
  3. Use colors that you like. If you’re partial to bright colors, use reds, blues, and greens. If you like deeper colors, consider purple, teal, and dark gray.

If you need help setting up your file system, contact Lisa Mark, C.P.O., who is an expert in systems management and productivity.

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