At one point or another we’ve all gone searching for a file on our computer – under the intense pressure of a looming deadline or the uneasy presence of a superior standing behind you, waiting—and have forgotten where we stored the file. File management is an understated skill, yes, a skill. This week, we thought we would share helpful organizational tips we’ve learned over the years.
Searching for a file with no filing system in a sea of disorganized folders can be likened to finding a needle in a virtual haystack. The longer you go on without organizing your files the bigger the haystack becomes.
What is a File Management System?
How do you avoid this? Simple, develop a file management system. What is a file management you ask? The Collins Dictionary defines file management as “the work of organizing and arranging files in a computer”. A file management system is designed to manage and organize large or small volumes of files, like special workplace documents and records. Having an efficient file management system improves the fluidity of the company. It additionally noticeably facilitates access to necessary knowledge thereby decreasing time spent searching for information.
Listed below are a few tips to help you develop an efficient file management system.
Group by category: Based on what your company does or focuses on, organize your folder either by departments, clients, products, or users.
Group by subfolders: You want to be consistent, so using subfolders to organize different groups by year, month, and date, makes identifying it a lot easier and quicker. Plus, you can store folders in an organized manner from year to year.
- Do not mix personal and work:
As a general rule, we recommend that you not save personal files to your work computer and vice versa. In the event that you do, it is critical to make a distinction between personal and work files, this can help prevent some unfortunate accidents. On the whole, mixing your work and personal folder is not good practice in the work environment and is generally frowned upon. Pay close attention to this point and ensure you accurately label your files and create subfolders to prevent this.
- Consistent File Naming Conventions:
On that note, labelling and correctly naming your files is an integral component of any effective file management system. Your file name should be a concise description of the documents or contents of the file. You want to ensure your file name is very brief and specific to ensure you can easily identify your files at a later point. We strongly urge you to avoid adding superfluous special characters (@ ) these largely demonstrate a lack of professionalism and do not bode well if shared with superiors. Instead consider strategically using spaces or even underscores before, after or in between names.
- Be Consistent:
We cannot stress this enough. Consistency helps you build good habits and save time. We recommend consistency when structuring your folders and naming your files. Ensure that all files are named and organized in a simplified and similar fashion. Consistency helps you and anyone perusing your files to quickly identify patterns and develop a sense of familiarity that eases their retrieval process. You want to ensure whatever is being browsed for may be found effortlessly regardless of file type.
Our final recommendation is to start this early and directly after you save any information to your computer. The earlier and more immediately you develop a file management system the more time saved from the time-consuming process of retroactively organizing your files. Remember, not every folder structure has to be excellent. However, implementing these tips and developing a sound file management system will ultimately save you time, improve your collaboration efforts, reduce and maximize your storage space and ease information retrieval and backup efforts.