OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou’d think that because you can’t see the disorganization every minute of the day,  that computer clutter would be less obnoxious than physical paper clutter in your office.  Not true. When you spend as much time as most people do on the computer, you kind of know what’s lurking in there and it also creates brain clutter.

Below are five simple tips to organize your computer files.

  • Name folders so you can find them later. It’s even easier to use long names for electronic folders than it is for paper folders.  Name them something that makes sense to you.  Of course, take into consideration your team, if colleagues also need to access the files.
  • Broad categories are better than super specific.  No folder should have only one, or even a handful of documents in it. If you spend longer looking for the folder than you do looking for the document inside the folder, your system needs work.
  • Be careful of nesting folders too deep. It’s going to be challenging to find a sub-sub-sub-sub folder.
  • Consider creating an Inactive Folder for files and folders you need to keep but don’t need to access on a regular basis.  Doing so will reduce the number of folders you see every day.
  • When you open a folder get in the habit of tossing unneeded docs while you’re there. It only takes a second or two and is a painless way to thin out and declutter your files.  Even though they don’t take up physical space it still feels good to trash them.

2 Comments

  1. John Douglas on March 6, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Mary,

    Let me suggest another organizational tip – use file names that fully describe your document. When you do, you can make the computer find the document for you.

    For instance, you may have a folder structure named C:My DocumentsBusinessJohn DoeInvoices. In the Invoices subfolder, you have invoices named “March 2014.pdf”, “April 2014”, etc. Most people think that you don’t need anything else because the folder that holds the file will tell you what it’s for. If you search for “March 2014”, you are going to end up with all of the March invoices for all of your clients. But if you name the file “John Doe – Invoice – March 2014”, you can have the computer search for the exact file you need and you don’t have to navigate through all of the folders to get there. If you search on “John Doe – Invoice – March 2014”, that’s all you’re going to get. It can lead to some long file names, but makes retreival much faster. Just create a syntax for your file names that works for you and have the computer find it!
    Have a great day!
    John



  2. Mary Kutheis on March 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Great advice, John. Thanks for sharing!