From The Mailbag: Organizing Computer Files

from Aurelia Williams 

Q: Annette asks — How do you recommend people organize the files on their computer? I’m a writer, which means that I have many clients and many projects and I also am a bit freaky about having an organized computer. The trouble is, I’m constantly in a state of reorganizing, always convinced that there must be a better way:-)

A: What a great question! 1st I want to say that there is no right or wrong way to organize your computer files as long as you can find what you are looking for in a timely manner. If you are having a problem finding the documents that you need when you need them, then I would say that you need to get a new system into place.

In Annette’s case (and for others that work for many clients) I can’t express how important it is to make good use of creating “Folders” . Most people create folders in their ‘My Documents’ folder (which is often the default directory for saving documents.)

Be sure to create a folder for each client that you work for/with and within that folder you can create subfolders to keep everything organized.

For example — let’s say that I am your client. You would go into your ‘My Document’ folder (or wherever you keep your documents) and create a folder called ‘Aurelia Williams’ and within that folder you can then create subfolders for jobs, and projects of mine that you are working on. You can also add a subfolder for my invoices.  Basically, any file that has to do with me would go into that folder or related subfolder.  This way when it is time to concentrate on the work you need to get done for Aurelia, you are literally 2 clicks away! The beautiful thing about this is that lets say you have 30 clients (YAY) you can name a folder for each client and you can easily find the folders because you can sort them alphabetically.

For other things such as your personal documents, I suggest the very same method. Create a ‘Annette’s Personal Folder’ (or something of that nature) and place your personal files in there (i.e. your budget spreadsheets, resume’s..etc). Just be sure that you think about the title of the folder before you create it and name it appropriately.

Also, learning when to let go of and combine folders and or documents is key. Go through your documents at least every three – six months and give them a good cleaning up. Set up new folders and combine like items into them. When you go to create a document, don’t let it sit there without a home, place it in a folder (smile). There of course are some files or folders that you may want to keep on your desktop if you use them frequently but for the most part – using folders and sub-folders inside the My Documents folder is the key to great computer file organization!

Hope that helps :)

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