Use Removable File Folder Labels to Save Time and Money

Some things come and go. Removable labels can minimize the impact.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #391

In roach motels, roaches check in, but they don’t check out! At Grandma Cuddles daycare, Grandma Cuddles believes that’s barbaric. Little children check in, and, of course, after a solid eight hour shift, they check out … mostly. The job incident rate isn’t so high; after all, crochet needles aren’t sharp enough to do permanent damage.

Grandma Cuddles believes in giving each of her charges individual attention. So each little poppet gets assigned their very own file folder, where she keeps track of that child’s special needs. Grandma Cuddles goes through a lot of children in a year, so she has the potential to use a lot of file folders.

But she’s smarter than that. Hunters believe no part of an animal should go to waste, and that everything, even bones and organs, should be reused. Likewise, Grandma Cuddles that nothing should go to waste. When a little child checks out, throwing away the file folder seems like such a shame. So wasteful. So Grandma Cuddles has a better way: removable labels.

When you keep a lot of transient files—files about clients, or projects, or anything that changes frequently—removable labels are the life preserver on the Titanic of your organization system.

Reuse Folders with Removable Labels

Before you get your labels, get sturdy file folders. Don’t skimp. You’ll buy these once, and they’ll last a lifetime. Get the same kind of file folders for all your files so they look nice and neat in your file cabinet.

I’ve tried 1-tab, 3-tab, and 5-tab folders. Even though in theory, having the 3 or 5 tab versions looks nice and neat in a file drawer, in practice, after you add, remove, or move a few folders around, you have two far-lefthand tabs behind each other, and they get out of order and just look messy. So I’ve standardized on 1-tab, reinforced folders with a single tab that goes all the way across the file folder. It produces a nice, clean look in my file cabinet.

Use Removable Labels

Next, get removable file folder labels. My choice is Avery 6466. They come in sheets so you can either write on them by hand, one at a time, or print an entire sheet at once using your laser printer. Grandma Cuddles’s handwriting isn’t as good as mine, so she prints her file folder labels in sophisticated fonts like papyrus or joker man.

Each label goes on the tab in the same place. Since I use one long tab that runs the entire width of the file, I put the label on the far left. The center also looks nice. This way, you can riffle through the files quickly and never need to move your eyes to the left or the right to see the name of the file you’re on.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.