Organizing files on the computer is tricky business.
There are as many systems as there are people – or if you’re like me, you have multiple systems.
My advice: Utilize the built-in features of the operating system as much as possible. They’re there for a reason.
Example: Sort by date descending. Your memory works by association – and you are likely to remember what you worked on before or after the project.
What they call ”Versioning”: I DON’T save copies with the same name. Rather, each one gets the addition of the date or date/time at the end of the file name. It allows you to recover from catastrophic mistakes – and they WILL HAPPEN.
As far as folder organization – I’ve worked in Excel forever among other software and what works for me, honestly, is simple:
Dump it in one place but let the FILENAMES tell the story. (use the operating system sorting to its best advantage).
When the folder gets slow or clogged up, move stuff untouched for a while into a subfolder to speed up directory access.
Do your backups on multiple drives. The folder name should have the date of the backup on it.
all in all – dates are #1 because they give you something to pinpoint. Vague filenames, folder names – you can easily spend more time maintaining your system than getting work done.
Simplest is best.
I’m a messy organizer but I can always find my files. I don’t keep them in places for other people to find. I keep them in places where I can find them.
Too many categories can be detrimental unless they are set up how you think.
An even more sophisticated method that I’ve used is like this:
In the end, there’s PROBABLY a person who wants this project the most: Having a person’s name in the file for your own use internally speeds up the search process.
It also helps in those vague times, where you get a call and someone says, ”Hey! Do you remember that thing you worked on for me last year about that thing we were having trouble with?”
and you’re all like ”huh?”
But you can go into a directory, sort by name – and it REALLY is sorting by name: name of person and then by project, then by date alphabetically – all within the filename itself.
Then you can see their name and go, ”Oh do you mean the ”WhatThatPersonCallsTheProject”? and then you can go down a fast ”no no no YES” chain.
And worse if they ask, ”Yeah, I liked how you had it when we had that big office party, remember?, when you were testing out that idea you had, but the board didn’t like it and you took it out? Well, I really want to see that again. I could use it again for a new thing I’m working on that I think you’re perfect for”.
All the answers are in the filename. You’d go to your old calendar, find the date of the office party, match them up and boom, found.
Even if you don’t get that fancy with your system, changing the filenames as you save (and purging when necessary – but disk space is CHEAP now – might as well use it all!) – and including the dates just streamlines things tremendously. Operating systems hold on to SOME of that information in their ”Properties” (like date created vs date edited) but for me, that was never enough information.
Anyway, I’m glad to have had a chance to share this with someone who can use it! Best of luck to you in your organization skills; its a lifelong challenge. -simplify3 (Kenneth Udut 7/28/2014)