Organizing Your Files

Just Another Typical Morning

Up early and I’ve got my first cup of coffee. I need to finish up a work project before I go to the doctor’s office in a couple hours, but this shouldn’t be much of a problem since I have been thinking about the project all night and have figured out exactly how to fix my word document and get it off to my boss early….WHERE IS MY WORD DOCUMENT. I remember saving it, but where did I put it. On the Google Drive, OneDrive, maybe in My Documents on the laptop, I just can’t find it. Well, I guess this is just another typical morning.

For a lot of us, this happens way to often and we know we need to be better organized when it comes to our electronic files.  I am going to give you some tips on how to make this happen in a quick and easy fashion. We will go over some tips on file organization and some additional tools that will make the process easy to remember.

Tips for Storing Electronic Files

Tip #1 – Put related documents in main folders with easy to recognize names

The first tip is to develop a mind set to always first think about how the file relates to your organizational structure. Is it personal or work related? Is it a one-time need or will you use it more than once? Does it fit within your current organizational structure or does the structure need to be modified? Once you determine where to put it, create a recognizable name to the file that will easily be remembered in the future. For main folders, determine a structure that represents how you live.  The sample show a possible structure that may be used to illustrate this process. In this case, if you were about to create a new home budget file, you should first think where would it go in your directory structure A budget file would go in the “Finance” directory. Once you decide where it will go, you should now determine what to name it. If your budget file will be used for the entire current year, you may want to include the year in the name (i.e 2020 – Family Budget.xlsx). This allows you to build a file plan, so when you begin to build next years budget, you know the naming convention (i.e 2021-Family Budget.xlsx).

Tip #2 - Use sub-folders within main folders to cut down on document clutter

Once you organize your files into categories, you’ll want to add additional layers that help you narrow down even more. That’s where subfolders come in. Subfolders help create logical groups within your larger categories. For example, within the Finance folder, you might have separate subfolders for Budget, Bills, Taxes, and Insurance. Then within the Insurance folder, you may have further subfolders for homeowner, auto, and life.

Of course, you don’t want to go overboard, but most people tend to suffer from too few subfolders, not too many. If you find yourself dumping 50+ files in a single folder, you might want to add a subfolder. If you only have a handful of files, you probably don’t need one.

Tip #3 - Don't Be A File Hoarder

My email provider probably hates me by now. I rarely use my personal email account these days. That means I regularly have anywhere from two to three thousands messages racked on their server. Be it emails or images, there is no need to keep every single file that comes your way. Being a file hoarder will simply create a chaotic environment filled with clutter that takes up precious space and makes stuff harder to find. Conduct an internal audit every month or so to check for and dump anything that doesn’t bring value to the table. This goes for copies of old stuff you have stored elsewhere, too.

Tip #4 - Stop saving things to your desktop

A cluttered desktop makes things disorganized and hard to find, but it can also slow computers down. The purpose of the desktop is to be interactive, not to store files. Its job is makes it easy for you to navigate your computer and give you information. If you have a large amount of files on your desktop, it is slowing down your computer. Those files need to be reorganized in your other folders (See Tip #1 and #2).

Tip #5 - Get rid of old versions and duplicate files

In some cases, most of us will download many duplicate files from the Internet without knowing that they are already in the PC and save them in a different location on the system. Simultaneously, we forget them to delete, which overtime result in harming the process and functions. At the same time, start taking a lot of system resources and affects your PC performance and make the system run slow. Hence removing these duplicate files, whether in the local computer or corporate network, will not only help in reducing the media and time used for backups. Further, it also increases storage space on limited resources such as memory disks and laptops. 


By employing these tips, hopefully you will begin to gain some control over your electronic files and save yourself quite a bit of time using your computer. Remember all good things start with a single step.

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