In today’s digital world, keeping all of your electronic files organized can be a real challenge. This is why, rather than solely storing documents locally on desktops, tablets, or mobile devices, an increasing number of people are turning to the cloud for file storage as well. This adds even more to the challenge, especially since we are now sharing documents between us constantly, be it for personal or business purposes.
If you are working with a computer for the most part of your day, you have certainly been in the awkward situation of being tasked, either by a client or a manager, to quickly find a particular document and not being able to locate it. If your computer is a complete chaos, chances are you will be scrambling around for documents nearly every time someone asks you to find a certain invoice or contract.
It is important to keep the records organized and up to date, regardless of where you prefer to store your documents. The aim of electronic file management is to help you find what you’re searching for, even if it’s a file you created years ago.
The process can be daunting at first, we know, especially if you have years of documents and folders to organize, but it will get easier as you progress, and you will thank yourself in the future. To help you out, we have put a list of tips that you can use in order to bring some order into your digital chaos.
Install programs in their default installation folders
If you have been installing apps and programs by yourself, you probably noticed the installation prompt asking you where the program needs to be installed. The best thing you can do to make sure programs are kept organized is to use the default file location the program is suggesting. This is usually under the Program Files folder, and if you go there, you should be able to find every program that is installed on your computer.
The developers of your operating system have put this in precisely so that you can keep better track of your installed programs, so it’s no reason not to follow their lead. If you want to install programs in a different location, it is best that you create a dedicated folder for this to make sure you will still find them when needed.
If you are using a business computer, the IT team may have already made sure programs are installed in a designated place, and you may not be able to change that, so it is best to leave it as is.
Create one root folder for each category
When you start organizing your documents and files, it is best that they are all kept under one single “root” folder. For example, work documents can be kept in the main folder called “Business”, photos go under “Photos”, music goes under “Music”, and so on. You can then create as many subfolders as you find appropriate in each of these main folders and organizes your files on a system you see fit
If you are working in a shared environment and more people have access to those files, try to keep the same rule so that everyone knows exactly where to find things.
Doing this will make it easier to create archives and backups as well, which will help minimize the occupied storage space. Create regular backups and archive your documents by year so that you keep things neat and organized.
Another thing you can do, especially if you are trying to organize bills and invoices, is to export them in PDF format and group them in one single PDF document. You can use tools such as PDFChef, which lets you convert and edit PDF files. They are much easier to keep track of this way, and you can share them with others easier, as PDF is a well-known and used format.
Create a logical system that works for you
Think of folders as the drawers of your digital filing cabinet. We recommend you use simple language when naming your folders and files to make it much easier to search for them. Naming a document or folder to describe precisely what it is will be a much easier method to locate what you need than to go for abbreviations or random names.
You may find it easier to organize files by years, and this is a very good option. If these are your work files we are talking about and you work with multiple clients, you can organize them by client name, and then each client documents by year and month. The goal is to have files in their designated folders rather than wandering around on your desktop or New Folder (9).
File documents and files as you go to make your system work in your favor. It’s never fun to spend hours at the end of a week or month organizing past files. It takes a few seconds to place files in their designated folders the moment you create them, and you will simplify your work tremendously.
Curate and prioritize
If you have specific files or folders that you constantly use, force them to go at the top of the list by using characters at the beginning of the folder’s name. Files and folders that begin with characters will be placed at the top when sorting them alphabetically.
To keep clutter away and make sure your system remains intact, make sure to curate your documents periodically. Delete everything you don’t need and create archives once you are done with specific files. This will keep things in one place and clear out space on your hard disk.
If you want to make sure you never lose important files, you also need to remember to do regular backups. You can do this by using a reputable cloud backup tool or getting an external drive and backing up files there.