Today, we use so many files that it’s easy to lose track of where they have been stored. In the busy world we live in, most people don’t have the time to go on a wild goose chase for that picture they loaded onto their computer 5 weeks ago, but just can’t remember where it went. Finding missing files takes time and is almost always preventable. Whether they are work files, pictures, school papers, videos, or any other kind of files, they are worth keeping track of. Follow these steps to keep track of all of your files at all times.
1. Organize By Convenience—What Will Work for You?
There are many ways you can store files, and there is no one right way to do it. The first thing you will want to do is choose a filing system that will work and make sense for you. An easy way to test this is by organizing a few different folders, taking a 20 minute break from your computer, and then trying to find one specific file, and see if your system made sense. If it passes the test, then you’re cleared to move on to the next step.
2. Choose a File Naming System—Be Specific and Consistent
There are hundreds of possible ways to name documents. When you are organizing your documents, several of them will need to be renamed to fall in line with your new filing system. The main points to keep in mind are: create clean and simple file names; avoid using symbols, spaces, and underscores; include the version or date created; and use all lowercase letters. Getting used to a new file-naming convention takes some time and practice, but is worth it in the long run. We wrote an entire article on file-naming conventions earlier that will help you with consistency of file naming.
3. Separate Personal and Corporate Files
Many people use separate computers at work and at home, and that makes this tip easy for them. But there are many people who use the same computer, phone, tablet, or other device for anything and everything. If this sounds anything like you, then it’s important for you to separate personal and work files for quick and easy access. You can do this by creating separate folders with clear, specific labels as discussed above.
4. Organize Files into a Hierarchy of Folders
Speaking of folders, this is where a big part of the organization comes in. Once your files are separated, organize them in a way that will make them easy to find, following the filing system you decided on earlier. An easy way to think about this is like a filing cabinet with drawers, folders, and sub-folders. Files can live at any point within the hierarchy, but the more detailed you can be, the easier it will be to find documents later on. Of course, you don’t want to create too many folders since that can lead to disorganization as well, so determine your most important topics and sections and stick to your system.
5. Get Rid of the Clutter—Keep No Unnecessary Files
If you find yourself holding onto old files that you really don’t use or need, embrace decluttering. About every six months, go through all your folders and files. If you find files that are only getting in the way and are no longer necessary, delete them from your computer. This is especially helpful for personal folders and files, but be sure you hang on to important financial documents. If your line of work requires you to keep certain files for a certain period of time, also be sure you are in compliance with those record keeping regulations. If you find files that could be important down the road, but are just taking up space at the time, create a new archive folder and move the files to that folder where you can find all of your archives in one place.
eFileCabinet Can Help
Did you know that 47% of employees surveyed said that one of the top three reasons for not going paperless was a lack of management initiatives or mandates? You can take the lead and get your company the secure organization it deserves. Implementing these small changes can go a long way, but you can avoid even more headaches on a corporate level with a document management system like eFileCabinet.