The Importance of File Cabinets

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As an expert in paper organizing, my favorite tool for creating a filing system is the FILE CABINET. A file cabinet provides a home for every piece of paper. Why have paper that is homeless? Centralize your current year’s personal and business files into an easy-to-access file cabinet. This blog will address the specifications that I recommend for purchasing a file cabinet.

1. Number of Drawers: I personally prefer 4 or 5 drawer file cabinets that are easy to access. The drawers will fill up fast over time. You want to keep the file cabinet in a very accessible place so it can be the central command center for all your papers. Otherwise you won’t use the file cabinet.

 

2. Vertical vs. Lateral:  Lateral file cabinets can accommodate either legal or letter sized file folders and can be utilized front-to-back or side-to-side. Lateral file cabinets are good for tight spaces and for high capacity filing and especially good for office use. Vertical file cabinets come in either legal or letter size but are not interchangeable. The vertical cabinet drawers are narrow but deep and great for everyday home or small business use. They take up minimal wall space and can have short or deep drawers requiring more clearance space.  My preference is letter size, deep drawers in a vertical file cabinet.

 

3. Bars in the drawers: Make sure the drawers come with bars to hold the hanging file folders or else you will have to purchase the metal file frames and insert them.

 

4. Material of File Cabinets: File cabinets come in different materials. You want to purchase a good, strong, sturdy one that will last for many, many years, not a cheap flimsy one that will bend, break, or be difficult to open and close the drawers. The most popular material is metal. These are made from galvanized steel and are very durable albeit not so attractive. They are long-lasting and can come in different colors to match a room’s decor.  There are also file cabinets that are laminate on particle board to resemble real wood and there are real wood file cabinets that are very expensive. The wood file cabinets are very nice looking and assimilate into a room looking like they are part of the furniture that no one notices they are separate file cabinets.

 

5. Fireproof vs. Not-Fireproof:  Fireproof file cabinets are well-worth the extra expense for they are specially formulated with insulation-proof materials that protect against fire as well as the water from sprinkler systems.

 

6. Lock vs. No Lock:  It is a good idea to get a file cabinet that has locking capacity.  This is extremely important if you have HIPAA requirements to abide by or confidential tenant information to retain.  If you don’t immediately need the locks, you can tape the keys inside or outside of the file cabinet.

 

7. Anti-tip:  It is best to invest in a file cabinet that has anti-tip features. Generally, this means that you cannot open a drawer when another drawer is already open. This prevents the file cabinet from tipping over.

 

SUMMARY

When you search for a file, you want to be able to locate it without much difficulty. Your time is valuable. You should not spend hours looking for that important bill that is missing among the piles of scattered papers across your dining table or desk. Your workspace is not a storage unit, and your desk must be visible. The furniture in your office must help you improve your workflow and not distract you from being productive. A file cabinet is one of the best investments that you can acquire, and it will last for a long time. It is so much better to categorize your files and folders in a file cabinet. You can retrieve any document easily, and it increases the level of security especially for storing sensitive information. Make sure that you list the requirements that you need in a file cabinet before you buy one. It is not enough that it is spacious, but consider if it can protect your files against the effects of natural disasters, such as fire, etc. You do not want your documents to be completely wiped out. You cannot control what will happen in the future, but you can prepare and be organized. If you have a sturdy and durable file cabinet, you will have less worries.

© Janet Fishman
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Professional Organizer

Janet Fishman, J.D., C.P.D.S., Professional Organizer, President of HOPE Organizers, Inc., obtained her Juris Doctor degree from Southwestern Law School, her Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Cal State University Long Beach, and her Associate Arts degree in Police Science from Mount San Antonio Junior College. She is a member of both the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and NAPO’s Los Angeles Chapter as well as the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. She is also a Certified Paper Document Specialist and Certified Home Inventory Consultant through Family Documap. Janet is also a member of AADMM - the American Association of Daily Money Managers through which she has been background checked.

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