Organize Files/Documents

Organize files/documents on your computer so you can access your documents easily. This is the most important thing you can do to have an organized computer, because if you don’t you will end up with a cluttered screen and scattered documents with generic names. Finding anything later on will be a tall task. Try incorporating the following and you will see a difference right away.

Always save your documents with appropriate names so that you can identify the content from the name. This makes life a lot easier. No more Document1, Document2 etc.

Save documents in appropriately named folders. Create categories that match your work. Again, avoid names like New Folder (1) and New Folder (2). When you organize computer files, make use of existing folder structure in Windows or Mac, and then create sub-folders to further divide your documents. For example, make specific folders inside the default “My Documents” folder in Windows, instead of saving all documents in the “My Documents”. If needed, add a “README” file inside the folder to explain the contents. This could be useful to distinguish folders with similar names or contents. Examples of sub-folders: Recipes, Forms, Journal, Business, Finance, Manuals/User Guides, Scans, Travel etc.

If you are working on one document over several days, consider creating a version at the end of each day (not to be confused with saving the document at frequent intervals whenever you work). At the end of the day, name the document with the date at the end (for example “XYZ project plan 2011-10-08.doc” for the version of XYZ project plan for Oct 8, 2011). The best way to do this is when you begin work each day. Copy yesterday’s document to a new one and change the name with today’s date. This way you can go back to previous versions easily and see what was changed.

If you have documents that you don’t want others to read (like your journal) use the password protection feature of your word processing program.

As always, create several copies of your folders for back up. External hard drives are very economical. You could also use optical media (CD/DVD) for this. Keep your copies in different geographical locations to avoid loss by fire, flood etc. Another option is to store them on the “cloud” which is an online storage operated by third parties. This also provides access to your documents from anywhere in the world as long as you have internet access. I avoid storing sensitive information on third party servers due to security concerns of stored data and data in transit.

Once set up, it is easy to maintain. But make sure you do the little step of naming your document correctly and saving in the right folder. It is not difficult to organize files on your computer, it just needs a little bit of attention from your side.

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