If you had to find a document that you downloaded to your computer, would you be able to locate it quickly? Or would you have to search and search, trying to remember what it was called and where it was stored? When it comes to locating important documents at work, having a clear system in place is imperative. Here are this NYC Professional Office Organizer’s 4 steps to organizing your computer files.
Step 1: Create folders. When you download a document, it automatically is stored in a generic “Download” file on your computer. There’s no real order to this and it’s a recipe for chaos when it’s time to find that important document. If you have a clear objective for keeping these files organized, the rest will be easy. First, create folders by year, and then by client, project, or topic (such as a folder for online receipts). Next, use subfolders to organize those broader topics. The trick to making these folders work? File documents as you go. As you are saving something to your computer, immediately save it right away to the appropriate folder.
Step 2: Be consistent in naming. There’s no use in creating a computer filing system if you aren’t able to quickly and easily find documents when searching for them. To make it that simple, you need to be consistent in how you and your team name your folders and your documents. You should be able to identify a document without opening it. Use short names and include the date a document was created or revised. If you are using a shared file system on the cloud, include the creator or reviser’s name or initials so that everyone knows who was working on that document.
Step 3: Schedule time to review. Just like paper files, not every document you’ve saved needs to be saved forever. Schedule time quarterly to review your files and discard anything that is no longer needed. This might be meeting agendas that have long since passed or notes on a project that was already completed. For files that you are not using regularly but still need to be saved, create a new category labeled “archive” and move those files there.
Step 4: Make sure you backup your files. As we all know much too well, viruses and computer crashes are common. Files you are saving should be backed up on your hard drive. You can save your files to an external hard drive and save files into a cloud-based system like Google Drive. Make sure you are backing up your files at least once a week. It’s best to back up in both the cloud and on a local drive. It is preferable to set up an automatic backup process that does it for you daily! Try Mozy or Carbonite. Check out Dropbox as another alternative.
The key to any office organizing system is to stay consistent and use it regularly. File documents as you go and you will never be looking for a lost file again! Need more office organizing tips and strategies? Reach out to your NYC Professional Office Organizer.