Working effectively is just about impossible on a cluttered or messy desk. But it’s not just physical messes that can hinder productivity.
The proper organisation of your digital files, folders, and documents is a simple, often overlooked part of owning and working efficiently on a computer. A lack of structure can make it difficult and time-consuming to locate a particular file that you need. What’s more, these messes often lead computer users to accidentally delete important documents.
In this article, we’ll share with you what we think is the best way to organise computer files and folders on both Macs and PCs. Implement this system or something similar for a clean and streamlined user experience.
Set your organisation goals
We all use our computers in different ways. Some of us have thousands of photos, and others have hundreds of text documents. Some of us work on our computer, and others just use it to stream their favourite TV shows. How you use your computer will, in some ways, determine how you organise your files and folder.
So, to get started, think about what you want to achieve by organising your digital data. Here are the three most common goal – you can use all three for maximum organisational effect.
- Quick to save. You shouldn’t need to spend any significant amount of time naming a file and finding its home.
- Easy to find. When you go to retrieve a file, it should be fast and easy. There should be no need to use the search function.
- Conventions that can be reused. The naming conventions you use to save your energy bills should also be suitable for your family photos, as an example.
Three golden rules to organise computer files
The filing system you create should adhere to these three golden rules.
1. Avoid creating too many folders
As you organise computer files, remember that less is so much more. Most of your files and documents will fit somewhere in the system you set up if you take the time to map it out initially. Your folder hierarchy shouldn’t be layers and layers deep – if possible, keep things simple.
2. Don’t save files on your desktop
Keeping your desktop clean will go a long way. If you’re a PC user, it should contain nothing more than your recycle bin. If you’re a Mac user, there should literally be nothing on-screen.
On some occasions, you can use your desktop for temporary storage. Just remember to delete or move the file once you’re done with it.
3. Name files and folders strategically
When naming files and folders, think about the types of words ‘future you’ might search for. Also consider the types of information that are important or unique to the document.
For example, when saving an electricity bill, you’ll need to think a little more strategically than sampling naming it ‘electricity bill.’ Some key pieces of information might include:
- The date of the bill
- The company the bill was issued by
- The type of bill
Combining these three types of information could result in a name like this: ‘Jan-19 Company Electricity Bill.’
Now, let’s jump into the nitty-gritty of file organisation.
Organising your computer documents
If you use your computer for both personal and business uses, the first thing you want to do is create two high-level folders. It might look something like this:
- Your username/Documents/Personal
- Your username/Documents/Business
Or if you use Dropbox or a similar cloud syncing service, it might look something like this:
Organising your personal documents
Jump into the ‘Personal’ folder you’ve just created. It’s now time to divide this into different aspects of your life. For example, this could include: Finances, Family, Health, Home, Travel, and Purchases.
Under each of these, you could then create subfolders. So, for example, under the finances folder, you might include things like electricity, internet, insurance, and taxes.
These are just ideas to get you started. The key is to divide your digital life in the same manner you think about your real life. High-level folders could even look something like this, if that’s the way you think:
Organising your business documents
How you organise your business documents will depend on your job and industry. If you work for a larger company, you are probably using a shared drive with an established file structure.
If you’re not using a shared drive, how you organise your work documents may be structured by a whole host of variables: project, client, date, process, systems, stage, and more. Again, think how you mentally divide up your work, and then mirror this in your file structure.
We suggest always including an archive folder to keep older or redundant files out of the way. Planning and WIP folders are also useful.
Structuring your folders
Here’s a sample folder structure that you can tailor to suit your needs.
This is just a starting point to give you an idea of a logical structure. It’s now up to you to ensure your structure contains everything you need without being over-the-top complicated.
Sometimes the best way to formulate a file structure is to map it out flow-chart style on a piece of paper first.
You can set up the most efficient organisational structure, but unless you’re consistent in your file naming and positioning, it’s completely useless. Be consistent and reap the time-saving rewards of a perfectly organised computer.
From files to photos, our team of experts can help you overcome the daunting task of organising your computer. Give us a call today on 1300 553 166 or fill out the form on this page, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Get help organising your computer
From files to photos, our team of experts can help you overcome the daunting task of organising your computer. Give us a call today on 1300 553 166 or fill out the form on this page, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible