Let’s start organising our lives! We will start with something simple – your computer files.
DON’T use your Desktop.
Your desktop may seem like a convenient place to store things so you can find them quickly, however that quickly gets out of hand! Once you establish a filing system that you like, it’s much more efficient to store things properly.
How can you find anything here?
DON’T leave files in Downloads.
If you are downloading pictures or files, they usually go into your downloads file by default. While this is an easy location to remember, if there is a file that you want to keep long-term, move it to a proper file folder. That way you will always know where it is, even months or years later.
DO file things immediately.
When you save a document, save it to the proper folder immediately. Don’t double up on your tasks by making yourself move it somewhere else later, or risk losing it.
DO sort everything on a regular schedule.
If you don’t want to spend time organising files immediately, that’s ok. But set up a schedule for sitting down and organising things like your downloads folder, archiving, etc. Once a week, once a day, once a fortnight. What works best will depend on how much you are creating and downloading.
DO use descriptive names.
When you are creating files, keep in mind what the future workload will look like. Let’s say you are a graphic designer – “Logos” may be a great file name when you are establishing your own business logos. However, once you are doing logos for other clients, you don’t want to put them all in the same folder, but you may want to keep your logos all in the same location. “Logos – client name” would be a much clearer option.
DO use Search.
A lot of people don’t realise that you can search your computer filing system. If you know the name, or part of the name, of a file you can search any file folder or even the entire computer to find it.
DON’T overcomplicate your folders.
Now, this part might seem a bit of a contradiction at first, but you shouldn’t be too zealous on the file creation. It may seem like creating lots of file levels is more organised, but it is creating more work for you.
There is nothing wrong with having 10 or more folders in a level! If you have labelled them properly, they are still easy to find.
CLEAR and SIMPLE: Documents\Invoices\2020May-Inv#-Clientname.doc
OVERCOMPLICATED : Documents\Invoices\Clients\Client A\2020\Inv#.doc
This is a process that takes time and a bit of commitment, but it will make your life easier in the long run. You can make changes along the way to find out what works for you, but you need to try a system for a while before you know if it is just getting used to something new or if there is really an issue with the system.
DON’T be afraid to tweak the process.
If you have tried a system for at least two rounds of your organisation schedule and it seems like it isn’t working, it’s your system! You can change what you like. My goal here is to make your files as streamlined as possible, but you can add in the levels you like if it makes you feel more organised. This is especially true if you are the only one accessing your files.
DO backup your files.
Back up, back up, back up! Even if it’s just an external storage device at home.
With the current available programs, there are also a lot of ways to have your files accessible from anywhere. Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive are all free to use (extra storage in addition to the basic account is available for a fee) are cloud storage systems. You store your files there and then you can access them from your phone, tablets, and other computers.
So, are you ready to organise your computer files?
For the overly complicated filing systems: Count the number of clicks it takes to get to a file before you start, then count again to get to the same file afterwards. Is it fewer than before?
For the crazy desktops: Is your desktop clean and organised now? Are there any documents or files accessible from the desktop? Can you see your wallpaper?
For the ‘search’-reliant who have to open everything to find what they are looking for: Setup a standardised naming system, do all of your files fit the process?
Let me know how you’ve gone! I love seeing before-and-after results.