Filing Systems:Alphabetize or Categorize?

Colored File Folders
“It’s not how fast you can get it filed that counts, it’s how fast you can find it.” – Secretary Handbook, Darnell Corporation, Chicago

As an organizer I am often asked by clients, “Should I alphabetize or categorize my filing system?” My standard answer is: first categorize your files, then alphabetize them within each category. WHY?  Think about the last time you visited the local bookstore or library. Imagine if all of the books on the shelves were arranged by author or book title. What if all you wanted was a book on traveling to Paris? Chances are you would waste valuable time and energy looking at every single book title until you reached one on Paris.

Categories (the process of putting like things with like things) help break files or topics down into more manageable systems. Categories also take the pressure off of having to remember every single detail about your files. Typically, filing systems that are organized according to categories tend to make file retrieval and maintenance easier. This system will also make sense to others who must access or maintain the information in your absence.

Interested in setting up an organized filing system that works for you and your needs?  Contact SpaceMasters at 818.232.7145 or e-mail:


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