The vote here at MCDA CCG is unanimous: filing documents electronically beats the mountains of paperwork that once took over our cabinets and desks.
Leading us to say, if it can be digitally stored, then let it be digitally stored.
However, depending on your technological savvy and organizational skills, your computer arrangement may not be where you want it to be.
We’re all turning our attention to sites like Pinterest and Tik Tok for closet/kitchen/home office organization “tips” and “hacks”, buying containers than most people really need in a lifetime…
(Container Store, we’re looking at you)
So why not fine tune your organizational skills where it matters most?
Here are easy to follow tips to organize your electronic files…
Use the default installation
When you install applications on your computer, use the default file locations. Installing applications anywhere else becomes confusing.
2. One Place for All
Allocate all of your documents under a single “root” folder. Whether it’s a single user or a shared environment, keep a single location for all electronic documents. This not only streamlines the process of finding certain items but also makes it easier to run backups and archives.
3. Logical Titles
Think of your computer as a filing cabinet with digital drawers. Use plain and simple language to label each folder for easy remembering. You don’t want to be looking at a list of folders in the future and wondering what your abbreviated file names stand for.
4. Folder within a folder
At times, it makes sense to create other folders within main folders. For example, a folder labeled “Invoices” may contain other folders labeled, “2020”, “2021”, and “2022”, a folder named after your client may include the folder “client data”, etc.
5. File Naming Conventions
Certain operating systems do not allow spaces in file or folder names, so avoid this if your computing environment is a mixed bag. Instead, opt to use the underscore character as a delimiter. Other characters such as ? / : * are also restricted from being used in the in file or folder names under Windows.
To streamline your file search, use descriptive file names for easy identification and retrieval. Keep in mind however, it’s important to not go overboard with this as file/path names have different length limits which vary between systems.
6. Be specific
Always label each of your electronic files with specific, logical names and include dates whenever possible. The goal here is to be able to tell what the file is about without having to waste time opening it and analyzing it. For example, if a document is a letter to a customer reminding them that their payment is overdue, call it something like “overdue_012322” rather than a blanket term like “payment”.
If you are sharing files via email or portable device, you may wish to have the file name include more specific information since it won’t be included in the shared file.
7. File as you go
When is the best time to file a document? Once you create it. Start making it a habit to utilize the “Save as” dialogue box to file your document, label it, and put it in the right place the first time.
8. Order your files
If there are folders or files you use frequently, boost them to the top of the list by renaming them with a “!” and an “AA” at the beginning of the file name.
9. Purge files regularly
Just as you clear out your closet to keep it from getting too cluttered, you should do the same with your files.
*Do not delete business files unless you are absolutely certain you will never need them again. We recommend creating a folder under your root folder and labeling it “Old” or “Inactive” and move old files into it when you come across them.
10. Consistently back up your files
Whether it to another drive or an actual tape, it’s important to set up and follow a regular back up routine.
There you have it! If you follow these file management tips regularly you will always know where something should be. What is your favorite organizational tip? Comment below!