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 is a step-by-step process from your NYC Professional Office Organizer to help you get your digital files organized.
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 for you so you can file documents as you go. Instead of leaving documents attached to emails or in downloads, save them immediately to your computer in the appropriate folder.
Step 2: Be consistent in naming.
There’s no use in creating a computer filing system if you can’t quickly and easily find documents when searching for them. To make it that simple, 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. The name should include a short description, date and version number. If you are using a shared file system in the cloud, you can also 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: 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 or Dropbox. 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 external drive. It is preferable to set up an automatic backup process that does it for you daily! Try something like Carbonite.
The key to any office organizing system is to stay consistent and follow it regularly. File documents as you go so 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.