Decluttering Your Business Archives

Over time your business archives can go from a small pile to a mountain of paperwork, but here’s some tips for decluttering your business archives to make filing easier and more efficient.

There aren’t many of us who relish the task of filing and archiving documents, but it’s a necessary part of running a business. Whatever size or sector you work in there will be some element of paperwork that needs to be kept safe and secure, just in case you need to declare it further down the line.

But this need to keep hold of paperwork, can actually result in business owners becoming hoarders of business archives. Of course, there are certain documents that you must keep hold of, but how many of us can honestly say that we haven’t got at least some paperwork filed that we no longer need? Probably very few, but we’re here with some hints on decluttering your business archives to make document archiving, easier, more efficient and less labour intensive.

Start at the beginning

It may sound like an obvious point, but decluttering your business archives should be done logically and chronologically. If you start right at the beginning of your archives then you can work systematically through the months, years or decades to ensure that everything you need remains and out of date paperwork is removed and safely destroyed. Plus by starting at the beginning, you may find there is a paperwork that you no longer need to keep that can free up filing space right away to make room for the new.

Check Your Dates

The last thing you want to do when decluttering your archives is to chuck everything out at once, or certainly throw out something you definitely need to keep hold of. Before you start sifting through the archives, it’s always worth checking how long you need to retain documents such as Value Added Tax (VAT) records, Company Tax, employee and PAYE records and insurance details. For most you should keep hold of them for a minimum of 6 years, but it’s good practice to keep them longer just in case HMRC request them or you need to make a claim.

Make Time and Get Help

Decluttering business archives is going to take a considerable amount of time, so don’t try and do it alone or certainly not all in one go. This is likely to lead to frustration and potentially mistakes. A good approach is to allocate a certain amount of time a day or week for the foreseeable, to ensure decluttering is a priority, but isn’t going to be too overwhelming. Also enrolling the help of others can lighten the load and make the process quicker and more efficient.

Make Decluttering Routine

If you’re embarking on your first business archive decluttering session, you will no doubt not want to be doing it again any time soon. However, if you make decluttering a regular part of your business routine, whether this is every quarter, bi-annually or annually, the process will inevitably be a much quicker and simpler than if you leave it for a longer period of time.

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