I recently heard a story about a person’s “filing system” that was a little shocking.
She was talking with her VA and while on the phone, she began struggling to find a document sent to her a few months ago. She looked in her email, she searched her hard drive, she even looked through a pile of papers she had stacked on her desk.
After roughly 3 minutes she was asked, “How do you organize your digital files?” She said she just keeps them in the “My Documents” folder of her computer.
And it turns out that’s exactly what she meant. She had everything, thousands of files spanning years and years, sitting there, completely unorganized, in one big bin. It’s the digital equivalent of “filing” your documents by opening the basement door and throwing them down the stairs. No wonder she was frustrated!
1. Think in terms of categories
When setting up a new file structure, think about the different buckets you’ll need to store your information. Then make a separate folder for each. In my case, for example, my main categories are:
Clients – all files related to my clients
My Business – this is where I store the information used to run my business
Personal – everything else – photos, family documents, etc.
Categorizing is more efficient than organizing filing by date (as you might with paper files).
This way, you’ll never have to remember “when,” just the more obvious “what.”
2. Make use of sub-folders
Within each primary folder, I create sub-folders – again grouped by category.
So, for example, within my “Clients” folder, I have additional sub-folders by client name. Inside each of those, I have more sub-folders (e.g., project documentation, reports, edits).
3. Choose meaningful file names
To make finding documents as easy as possible, make sure to give a meaningful name to each one.
Not only does this allow you to find what you need quickly (without having to keep opening documents and looking to see what’s in there), it makes searching your folders quicker, too!
Just follow these simple digital filing concepts, and you can definitely save yourself some time!
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