As more and more of the information we create, send and receive is electronic, having an easy-to-use, logical filing system for your electronic data is just as important for your efficiency as using a good system for your paper files. In celebration of national Clean Out Your Computer Day (the second Monday in February), below are recommendations for organizing your computer files in your NYC office in a way that will make it easy to find what you need quickly – and doesn’t it seem that you always need to find it quickly? If you have difficulty applying any of these suggestions, contact a NYC Professional Office Organizer like The Organizing Zone to help you out.
It just feels better to start your day with a clean desk, and a clean computer desktop has the same effect – and it can increase your efficiency. Just as you wouldn’t dump every sheet of paper that comes across your desk into a single file drawer, try organizing your computer files in your NYC office by using folders and subfolders too. Create a file structure that is similar to what you use for filing papers so that it’s familiar and doesn’t require that you keep track of multiple systems. For files such as Word documents, spreadsheets and presentations, start with the My Documents or Documents folder (depending on your operating system version). Then create additional folders and sub-folders as you need them. Perhaps you have a folder for each client, with sub-folders for each project you work on for that client. You may have a folder for bank statements, with sub-folders for each year or for each bank account. If you aren’t sure how broad or specific the file names should be, request some guidance from a professional office organizer.
You can also create folders on your main computer drive for other logically-grouped files. If your computer isn’t already set up this way, create a Program Files folder to store executable files such a MS Office tools, Quickbooks and other applications that you access regularly. Having them all in one place saves time and increases your efficiency.
Establish Naming Conventions
When naming your files, our NYC Professional Office Organizer recommends that you use short names, avoid spaces and special characters, and include the date a file was created or revised, particularly if you have a need to keep multiple version of a document. Include the creator’s name or initials if multiple individuals will be editing a file. Be consistent with file names throughout your folders and choosing short, descriptive file names will become routine. Your goal in organizing your computer files is to be able to identify a file without having to open it. Keep in mind that your file structure can take care of some of your naming. For example, if your folder name is “XYZ Company Invoices,” your file name does not need to include “XYZ Company.” If there are folders or files that you use frequently, force them to the top of your file list by including a !, AA or the year at the beginning of the folder/file name. Be consistent with file names so that it’s easy to find what you need in every folder on your computer.
File as You Go
Like with paper files, putting documents where they need to be stored right away is much more efficient than filing a “stack” of them later. Files in your “stack” can be difficult to identify and retrieve and since these are likely your most active files, they need to be readily accessible.
Clean Out Files Regularly
Just as you (hopefully) do with your paper files, keeping your NYC office computer files organized requires regular purging. Some files can be discarded, while others, though not actively in use, need to be kept somewhere. Create an “Archive” or “Inactive” folder and move old files regularly. In the Archive folder, create sub-folders that will make it easy to retrieve files stored here should you need them later.
BAn external drive works well for keeping a backup of your files, as well serving as a location for your “Archive” files so you can free up disk space on your computer. Most professional office organizers as well as computer consultants recommend backing up your files at least once a week; and better yet, suggest setting an automatic backup process that does this for you daily. Online backup systems such as Carbonite or Mozy are an affordable option for backing up large amounts of data.
If getting started seems overwhelming, contact The Organizing Zone. Our professional office organizer will assess your daily work needs, goals and specifications to create a document organizing system that will work for you.