There are three major ways you can set up your files. They prioritize clients (or projects), dates, or file-types. For today’s purposes–because it will be impactful to the most amount of people–we will look at the file type-based setup.
A file type-based setup groups all files in folders designed to hold a certain type of file. Say you have a lot of ebooks on your computer. Making a file-folder that is labeled “ebooks” and then filling it with all of your ebooks is a good way to quickly get your ebooks in one place, rather than strewn about your OS, on your desktop, in your downloads folder, and in your cloud storage. This file-type system is all about putting everything in its right place. This may be a little bit of work, especially if you have a lot of files already, but when it’s finished, you will know where to go to find any file on your system.
Keep in mind that if you are working in business, you are likely on a shared network and will want to save your files in network storage.
There are a few tips that should help you along your path to organization.
Tip # 1: Stick to Your Filing System
Once you’ve committed to a filing system you will want to stick to it. There are some easy ways to accomplish this. Firstly, file things as close to immediately as possible. This may seem obvious but we’ve seen some pretty gnarly Download folders. By moving files into their appropriate places immediately, you don’t run the risk of losing a file that belongs in one folder amongst the files in another.
Tip #2: Avoid the Desktop & Downloads Folder
Anyone that has used a Windows-based PC for any length of time knows that files can be dragged and dropped or saved to the desktop. They also know that every file downloaded that isn’t specifically routed to a folder ends up in the downloads folder. Some users would see this and think, “Hey, great job, Microsoft! This makes it much easier on me. I can open my computer and, wham, there are all of the files I care about.”
This may hold true, for about a month. The more files you deem important and pin to your desktop, taskbar, or leave in your downloads folder, the more of a mess it is going to be. Think of your downloads folder as a foyer of a big house. If everything you brought into the house was left in the foyer, it would become a complete obstruction. The desktop, on the other hand, is a decent place to put top-line folders on, since inside there should be a file structure that would allow you to access all of your data from the desktop of your computer, but the more random files that fill up your desktop, the more convoluted your file management is going to be.
Tip #3: Sort Once a Week
Okay, so if you don’t make a habit to immediately file files away in their correct folders, you HAVE to make a point to do it periodically. We suggest once every week or 10 days. After that it starts to get messy, and after a month or two, you are back to square one, with a computer that has files everywhere you don’t want them to be.
Tip #4: Naming Practices
If your computer is relatively simple and you have one type of folder for your pictures, when you go into your pictures they aren’t always going to be named “Puppydog2.jpg”. Sometimes, especially if you get a multitude of pictures from the same website, they will have similar file names. This isn’t an issue when you have a handful of the same files and you can just look at the thumbnails, but if you have thousands of files named similarly it’s going to be a complete nightmare when you go to look for something specific. That’s why you want to name your files uniquely.
If you are used to naming a picture of your dog “puppydog#.jpg” and you have hundreds of pictures of your dog, it’s bound to get confusing. As a result, you will want to name your file something like: puppydog_at_the_park2.jpg”. Small differentiators can create the kind of specificity needed to keep your files organized.
Managing your files effectively will save you time and won’t test your patience. For more great tips and tricks, visit our blog regularly.