Organizing files on your computer can mean increased productivity, decreased cognitive fatigue, and easy access to everything at your fingertips.
But the question remains – how do you come up with an organizational structure that makes sense and is easy to replicate?
Let’s find out.
Before you start to organize your files on your computer, you have to first declutter everything. Take stock of all your apps and games and files and start to work your way through them.
There are several approaches you can take to decluttering, so don’t overthink the process or worry if you accidentally delete a file you want to keep. You can learn how to recover deleted files over here in this article.
Some filters you can apply to make the decluttering easy are – have you used it in the last 6 months? Will you need it in the next 6 months? Can you redownload it if you need it later? Is it already stored on the cloud? Is the file size abnormally large?
Once you finish, you can move on to the next step.
Come Up with a Structure
After the initial purge, start looking at the files that remain. The structure you come up with has to work for you. So, even if someone tells you that an organizational system works for them, you don’t have to apply it to your situation. You may find it useful to store your files by year or alphabetically or by project or client.
Depending on the work you do and the industry you are in, think about what will make your life easier if you need to access files quickly and easily without committing a complex structure to memory. Remember that this system has to be simple not only for you to file everything away the first time but also to keep it up as you go along.
Use a Single Location for all Your Files
All your important documents, files, images, or videos should be under one big folder that has subfolders within them. Doing this helps you narrow down the places you have to look at when trying to locate an important file and also makes it easy to control all your data.
If your files need to be shared with a colleague, then you can use Drive and upload your files there and give them limited or full access. You can also convert files to a PDF and add a layer of security on top so that only they can access the documents.
Start Filing Everything
Once you map out a structure, put it down in an email and send it to yourself so that you can refer to it if you need to at a later stage. Next, you want to start doing the actual work, i.e., organizing all your files. You do not have to get it done immediately or in one go. You can break it up in chunks so that you file as you go. For new files, you should file them away immediately.
Name your Files and Folders Logically
To make things easier, come up with a naming convention so that you can still find it by using some filters and a partial name match in case you forget the name of a file. You do not want to name your folder a weird abbreviation and then later not know what it means. Keep things simple and name files so you can easily remember.
Assess your Files Periodically
After you get into the rhythm of sending files where they belong, take some time to assess your organizational structure periodically. You want to make sure that you do not end up creating too many child folders. If it takes too many clicks for you to find your files, you will be forced to remember the names and location for them, which defeats the purpose of the organization.
Back Up all Your Data
One part of making sure all your data is accessible is to back it up either to the cloud or onto an external drive. Doing so prevents you from facing the consequences of unintended data loss.
When working on an important project, you may want to create multiple copies of the files so that you are not in a situation where you inadvertently delete a file that you actually need and cannot retrieve it anymore.
Managing your data and organizing it neatly is a time-taking effort but one that pays off in the long run. If you can tame your data and make sense of all your files, it becomes easy to find the right file when you need it for your work or if you need to send across a file to a client or a colleague.
There are some apps and software that can help automate the process for you once you come up with an initial structure so that you can spend time doing other important things.
Barry Lachey is a Professional Editor at Zobuz. Previously He has also worked for Moxly Sports and Network Resources “Joe Joe.” he is a graduate of the Kings College at the University of Thames Valley London. You can reach Barry via email or by phone.