How do you manage your files? With no end of options, there are plenty of ways you can keep track of material you need regularly, or occasionally – and some are smarter and more efficient than others.
Most of us are now a long way from keeping everything on paper, though the dream of a totally paperless office does remain just that, a dream. However, we have largely replaced hard copies of our own output, by electronic files on a computer hard drive.
In the recent past, it would have been normal for a small business to have a network for its computers, allowing users to share access to a common hard drive, on which work files were stored. And a sensible organisation would then have some way of creating a back-up copy of those files, on a regular basis.
Nowadays, the option is increasingly one of having files stored remotely in the cloud, rather than on a local hard disk. This has the added advantage that staff can access files while they are out on the road, or working from home. For someone using a virtual assistant, this solution is ideal, as the VA can be given access to relevant work files, which are easily accessed once a password access has been set up. A lot of cloud based storage systems are setup for team collaboration and folder sharing, so your VA can work on or take over where you finished with access to shared folders.
What do you use? Some systems such as Dropbox are free to use, up to a certain scale of operation. Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Apple Icloud are also systems that allow individuals to store files remotely, starting from free and tiered pricing for business features. It may be that other, paid options are better suited. Sometimes, a client will insist on proof that files are safely stored, and safely backed up at a remote alternative location. At Time Wise VA we would love to talk you through the various options that are available, we have first hand experience with many of the systems available. As a VA based in Oldham, Manchester we have clients throughout the UK who use various cloud storage systems.
If you are ready to take the step towards an almost paperless set-up, then perhaps you ought to invest in a comprehensive document scanning system. These are ideal for businesses that regularly receive a substantial amount of mail, perhaps order confirmations, or invoices. The scanner can be used to digitise all incoming post, with documents then being stored as PDFs or electronic files, rather than as paper. There are several software systems that can read text on the scans, and store particular document types in the appropriate files on a hard drive, or in the cloud.
Depending on the type of material you need to save and store, and how you come across it, then it may also make sense to think about other ways of storing files. Evernote, for example, is a system that enables users to grab files, images and other information on the go, and then store and arrange it in various ways later.
So, if you’re struggling with storage, why not ask your VA to help you get organised? They’ll have plenty of ideas to improve productivity.