finding computer filesMost of us still have some paper files but it’s diminishing over time. Which would be fantastic news except that now we’re probably saving even more electronically.

Computer desktops can get cluttered just like actual desktops and electronic files can get overwhelming and overstuffed just like file cabinets where the drawers barely shut and it takes all of your upper body strength to squeeze in another folder.

The good news is that the same rules apply to electronic storage of files as worked on paper files.

  • We only look at 20% of the stuff we ever file. Since we don’t know which 20% it’s going to be, we file much more than necessary. Remember that and be picky about what you keep.
  • Don’t file anything that’s just as easy to access again via Google or Bing.
  • Don’t keep multiple copies or multiple versions of the same document once you have a final.
  • File in broad categories.  No file should have only one or two documents in it because then the name of the file will have to be far too specific. The broader the category, the fewer places you have to look to find your file.
  • Name files using a convention that makes sense to you. If many people have access to the same files, develop a consistent naming convention that everyone follows.
  • Thin out your files every six months or even more often if you can get in the routine of spending 30 minutes every month.
  • As you’re cleaning out files note what kind of documents you tend to keep and whether or not you access them. Shift your filing habits according to what you find your 20% to be.

Most of us spend huge amounts of time looking at our computer screens. If there are too many folders or it looks like a jumble it affects our ability to stay focused and have a clear head for work. Put these tips into practice and avoid the brain drain.