Sometimes, no matter how hard you work on going paperless, you will realize that it’s simply not possible for everyone. Yet even if that’s the case, it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about that growing pile of documents on your desk.
With the best digital filing system for home office, you can finally free up precious real estate in your workspace. After all, research proves that a clutter-free office makes for a healthy and productive employee.
How To Reduce Paper Clutter in Your Home Office
The problem with reducing paper clutter is the effort and time it will take to come up with a concrete plan. To help you get started on the right track, we’ll share with you how we organize our digital files.
Step 1: Pick a Digital Filing System To Store Your Files In
Before anything else, you need to decide where to store your electronic files. As you can imagine, keeping all of your files in one place will make it easier to organize and access them when necessary.
Several factors play into this decision, but your personal preference is what matters most. Depending on the types of documents you primarily deal with, you’ll learn that what works for one person may not necessarily work for you.
Generally speaking, you can choose from two options: cloud-based or non-cloud storage.
A cloud-based storage system stores data online, so you won’t have to buy and manage your own storage infrastructure. Instead, you will be paying a cloud computing provider of your choice to manage and protect your files.
Storing your documents in the cloud means you can access them simply by logging into your account. For example, imagine saving an important file in the cloud using your mobile phone.
Since it’s in the cloud, you can open the document on your computer or tablet just by connecting to the internet.
There’s no doubt that a cloud storage system is effective and convenient. However, not everyone is comfortable with storing sensitive files online.
In that case, you can use network-attached storage (NAS) or an on-premise system instead.
NAS is a type of hard drive where you can keep and store files coming from all the gadgets connected to your WiFi router. All you have to do is install this on your computer to organize files connected to your network.
How To Choose Between Cloud vs. Non-Cloud Storage
Each of these file storage types has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to figure out which will work best for your home office.
If you’re having a hard time deciding on the right route to take, here’s where these two storage systems differ:
You can only fully enjoy a cloud-based system when you’re connected to the internet. In contrast, this is a non-issue with non-cloud-based storage.
Even without an internet connection, you can search for and access files saved to your NAS or on-premise storage.
Compared to a NAS system, cloud-based storage ensures your files have a backup. This means you’re less likely to lose your files even if your computer gets compromised.
With non-cloud storage, you will need to manually make copies of your files and save them on a different hard disk to have a backup.
Keeping your files in the cloud means you can choose to give your workmates access to allow project collaboration. When one works on and edits the file, the others can instantly view the updated version.
The problem with relying solely on cloud storage is that you will be at the mercy of your provider in case a technical issue arises.
If it’s something serious, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to access your files and will have to wait for the provider to fix it for you.
If you want a NAS device and your home office handles big chunks of data, you need to invest in a unit with enough capacity.
Often, this can set you back a couple of hundred dollars for a quality model. This is where cloud systems are better.
Not only do cloud storage systems have reasonable rates, but they also allow you to avail of and pay only for the plan you need.
A cloud system works by saving your files on the internet. Hence, you can’t ignore that they can be hacked and destroyed by viruses. These do not happen often, but you will have better protection by saving your documents on a hard drive.
Step 2: Create Folders To Separate Your Files
After deciding where to keep your files, the next step is to organize those files in different folders. Again, the folder system you come up with will depend on the kinds of files that your office handles.
In line with this, it’s also important to have a set rule when naming your files.
Some do it alphabetically, either from A to Z or Z to A. Others name their files chronologically, especially for receipts and invoices. Another technique to sort your digital files is to name them numerically.
Whichever you choose, make sure you commit and stick to it. This way, you won’t have a hard time keeping track of your files.
Step 3: Start Scanning
By now, you should have a collection of folders where you can sort existing files and all incoming ones. Hence, you can now start tackling those piles of paper cluttering your desk.
With your trusted scanner, begin making digital copies of your most important paper documents first. As you scan, start sorting the scanned documents and move them to the folder they belong to.
Again, it’s important to name each file following a logical format that you can use to search for it later on.
Step 4: Maintain Your System
All your hard work will be useless if you don’t commit to your new filing system.
We understand that sorting through all your documents, existing and new, and keeping them organized takes time and effort. Even so, you can be sure that it’ll all be worth it in the end.
Best Digital Filing System for Home Office
With a set plan to organize your files, you can now focus on finding the best digital filing system perfect for your home office. Fortunately, you won’t run out of reliable options; the key is knowing which one meets your needs.
Below, we’ll look at what these cloud and non-cloud digital filing systems offer to give you an idea of what to expect.
No list of the best digital filing systems is complete without mentioning Apple’s very own offering, iCloud. If you’re a fan of the brand and use Apple devices, you will have Apple iCloud already pre-installed.
You probably already know about the 5GB free storage, but you can upgrade your plan to up to 2TB of storage for only $9.99 per month.
Apple iCloud offers plenty of features you can put to good use, such as real-time syncing, daily backups, and family sharing. Sadly, downloading the software to a non-Apple device is impossible, but you can access it through the web.
With a monthly fee of $10, you will have 100GB of storage capacity to take advantage of when you get a plan from Box.
The good thing about this is that you can increase the capacity in small 5GB increments. Therefore, you won’t have to pay for ridiculously massive cloud storage that you really don’t need at the moment.
What Box is most proud of is that it offers enterprise-grade compliance, privacy, and security to avoid data leakage. It also has several built-in tools designed to help make your day-to-day life easier, including Box Relay and Box Sign.
You can use Dropbox to store, secure, and sync files from all of your devices. It has multiple layers of protection, so you can rest assured your digital files are safe and protected.
Even better, you can share any file, regardless of size, with a co-worker even if he doesn’t have a Dropbox account.
It may not be as reasonably priced as others, but many prefer it over other options because it syncs and updates files quickly.
To give you an idea of their plans, a Professional Business account with 3TB of storage will cost you $16.58 if you pay yearly. If you want unlimited storage with access for more than three users, as well as plenty of other benefits, you’ll need to pay $120 per month.
For those already comfortable with using Google products and services, it’s a wise idea to stick to Google Drive.
Besides, simply having a Google account already grants you 15GB of storage you can share with other Google account users.
Of course, you will need to pay if you want an upgrade. For 100GB more storage, the current price is $1.99 per month, which is still a bargain.
What makes it stand out is that it works perfectly with Microsoft Office and has plenty of apps for editing photos, videos, and audio.
Microsoft’s OneDrive is yet another well-known cloud storage option because of its reliability and ease of use. What’s more, it offers packages at much more budget-friendly rates.
You can create an account and get 5GB of storage for free. To enjoy up to 100GB of space, you will only need to pay $19.99 per year for the OneDrive Standalone plan.
Document Locator Software
Users of Windows computers are already familiar with this on-premise document management system.
Compatible with Microsoft Office and many other apps, you won’t have difficulty mastering its ins and outs. If that’s not enough, you can level up your system and get DL Cloud, which lets you enjoy the benefits of both an on-premise system and the cloud.
Not sure how to begin organizing your files? eFileCabinet is an all-in-one document management system perfect for total beginners.
With eFilecabinet, you will have access to templates to create an efficient folder structure. Once you’ve created a basic digital filing system, locating files should be quick and easy.
The company also has plenty of solutions to help automate back-office tasks to help teams achieve efficiency and growth.
FileHold has a long list of products, so you’ll have plenty of options to find one that fits your needs exactly. In fact, even the basic plan has more than enough features to help make document management easier.
Not only is it easy to use, but it also allows file sharing and collaboration, Microsoft Office integration, and more.
Like the DL software, M-Files allows you to combine an on-premise system with cloud storage so that you can take full advantage of their benefits.
No matter the file type or where it is stored, M-Files will make it easier to access your most important documents and send them to the right folder. It is also compatible with many of the most-used office applications, including Microsoft 365.
How To Choose a Digital Filing System
Still confused? Ask yourself these questions to determine which is better for your home office.
Is it compatible with your existing system?
You likely already have files saved to your computer, so it’s important to pick a digital filing system compatible with your current one. Basically, you will want to be able to transfer, share, and open your files between the current and new systems without much trouble.
Is it easy to use?
The system you pick has to be easy enough to use that you won’t have a hard time maximizing all of its features. Look for one with a user interface that is easy to master and convenient to use.
Does it allow you to search for files easily?
Since you’re looking for the best digital filing system for home office, you already know the importance of organizing your files. On top of keeping them organized, it’s also crucial that your documents are easy to find.
Being able to search for the file you’re looking for will help make your office run more smoothly.
Will it keep your files secured?
Security is another important factor to consider, especially if you handle sensitive and personal information. Make sure you look at a system’s level of access rights to determine if they match your office’s needs.
What features does it have to help with organization?
The best digital filing systems will have several features to help you arrange and sort your files. Check out what each of them offers and whether or not such tools will help make the task more efficient.
Take Advantage of Free Trials!
As you can see, there is no shortage of options for finding a good digital filing system. The key is knowing which one matches your needs perfectly.
Since most of these programs offer a free trial, it should be easy to test them out yourself. You can create an account and check out the tools and features of a particular storage system.
That said, you’ll have the best chance of finding a good match in a system you’re already familiar with.