Success with technology is founded on our ability to find the files we need quickly. Fortunately, we can grow in that skill. Here are seven tips for organizing computer files:
1. Mimic Your Paper Files. As much as possible, keep your computer filing system like your paper filing system. This means having a folder for Financial, Client, Project, and General items. (See Organizing Your Business Files for general folder needs and tips.)
2. Subdivide Your Folders As Needed. Within each of your main folders have specific folders to meet your needs. For example within your Client Folder you’d have a separate electronic folder for each client. As with paper files, you can create an “Archive” or “Old Clients” folder for inactive clients to make it easier to find her
3. Separate Business and Personal Files. Technically, personal files should not be on a business computer. However, if you work from home or if you’re just like the majority of the workforce, you’ll have at least a few personal files on your computer. Keep these separate. Name the folder Personal or My Home Files and keep everything not related to your business work in that area.
Naming Tips – Dates
4. Reorder Your Dates. In the United States, December 23, 2015 is typically abbreviated to 12.23.15. When naming a file on a computer, this can be problematic. A file dated 12.23.16 would come right after one dated 12.23.15. If you’re trying to keep your years together, you’d have to create a 2015 folder and move all the 2015 items in it —not always the best option. However, if you change your date system to 15.12.23 (Year.Month.Day), you can easily keep all your years in proper order. The December document for 2016 would then appear at the end of the 2016 documents.
5. Make All Date Components 2 Digits. Use 01 instead of 1 when naming files with dates. This prevents January posts (16.1.1) from showing up with December posts (16.12.1). Instead always list dates as 16.01.01 or 16.12.01. This will keep your months and days in proper order.
Naming Tips – General
6. Be Consistent. Choose a system and stick with it. This makes it easier to locate your files and folders. Here are some ideas for consistent names in
- Blog posts/Articles
- Weekly Blog Post Naming: 15.12.23 Organizing Your Computer (Year.Month.Day + Post Name)
- Monthly Blog Post Naming: 15.12 Writing a Novel in 3 Steps (Year.Month + Post Name) *This is a post I wrote for AlmostAnAuthor.com. Click the link in the title to read the article.
- Blog Post Pictures – Organizing pictures is a whole separate post. However, when you want to keep track of your pictures for blog posts, create a Pictures folder within your blog post folder. Date the picture the same as the post then add a name that describes the picture: 15.12.23 Featured Picture. You’ll be able to quickly find any picture for any post you’ve done.
- Client Files
- Lanier Mtg Notes 15.12.26 (Client’s last name + Document type + date)
- TGAG Financial Report 15.12.26 (Abbreviate company name for long names)
7. Ordering Your Folders
Use numbers to put folders in a specific order at the top of your filing list. The standard business files listed above would appear in your folder list as
However, you can use numbers in their names to force them to appear in the order that is most logical for you:
Use letters to put folders in a specific order at the end of your filing list. If you always want a folder to be at the bottom of your folder list, begin the name of the file with Z-. This will keep it at the end. Example: Z-Archived Clients
Making It Work – Your Christmas may be busy, but unless you’re an accountant, many people find they have free time in the few workdays between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Pick a time to organize your computer. You’ll finish the year with a clutter-free electronic space and that may actually make January the start of a happy new year.
Blessings for your Christmas time. I’ll see you in the New Year. ~ Cynthia, The Efficiency Addict.Seven tips for organizing your computer files. #WorkSmarter Click To Tweet