We all have things we need to file away, and pastors and ministry leaders are no exception. Between sermons, graphics, background checks, insurance forms, tax receipts, etc – the amount data we have to put somewhere seems to never end. I hope this post can help provide some guidance in the first step to filing your stuff well.
There are essentially two forms of information sorting that I like to call: file and archive. Filing is the idea of folders, subfolders, and files. It’s the most common organization system that we’re all familiar with. The second, archiving, is more like having a large bucket, or filing cabinet with no folders inside – only files. Some people use only one or the other, but I think that the best option is to use a combination.
When to File
Filing tends to work best when you need to group a specific set of files together because they are regularly used together. I use a filing system for things like a specific event I’m working on or a set of graphics I always use for Sunday morning. However, as technology advances, there are fewer things that are more efficient to file, and more things that are better to simply archive.
When to Archive
Archiving is more of a “hunt and gather” approach to organization. As mentioned above, technology has allowed this method to be very efficient. The concept of having a huge filing cabinet not organized by date, name, type, group, or any other method use to mean complete chaos. It would have taken forever to find the most simple document. However, with the ability to search your files on the computer, this method has become a true contender. This method, depending on your software of choice, could mean simply putting all your files in one folder, or using an app like Evernote. It’s become much more efficient to archive most files I come across. My basic rule of thumb is that if I won’t need this specifically with other files, then I normally archive it. As mentioned in Evernote, I sometimes use tags to still group specific files together, but archiving generally tends to have an individual file approach to it. Normally, I can search a few words and find the file I’m looking for faster than if I would have filed it away 5 folders deep anyway. This means I saved the time I didn’t spend filing it, and I was able to access it quicker!