A lack of organization of physical or digital files leads to frustration and wasted time by not being able to lay your finger on it right away when you need it. Whether the file folder is a manila folder or a digital one on your hard drive, having everything organized is one key to productivity.
Set up a backup schedule
One of the first “rules” of digital file organization is to frequently back up everything on your computer hard drive either to a cloud-type of storage or to a separate external hard drive connected to your computer. There are several programs that can quietly run in the background and make a duplicate copy as frequently as you want. The advantage of backing up to a cloud is that you can access your files from anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection.
Delete unused bits and bytes
Most of us have at one time or another downloaded an app, report, or created a file that we needed at the time, but since have not used it. If so, delete it, or in the case of an app or software program uninstall it. The same goes for files and folders. Delete what you no longer need or use. And if you accidently delete a file that you shouldn’t have, you can either restore from your Recycle Bin or reload it from your backup.
Set up a file structure
Just as you have manila file folders set up in file drawers, you can do the same thing with digital files on your hard drive. Set up the highest level of digital folders first. This is your file drawer. Then set up sub-folders under each folder. These are the equivalent of your manila folders. Keep creating as many sub-folders within a folder as you need, but don’t go overboard as you can reach a point where it becomes counter-productive.
For example, photos from a trip to the ABC islands might look like this: your highest folder level might be Photos. A sub-folder could be Caribbean 2016. A set of sub sub-folders could be one on each of the places visited: Bonaire, Aruba, Curacao.
File as you go
This is a time saver if you create or download a lot of documents. If you get in the habit of filing something in its proper folder as soon as you create or download it, it saves time at the end of the day trying to get everything where it belongs.
For files or apps you frequently use, set up shortcuts on your Desktop. Or alternately, you can pin something to the taskbar making it easy to open.
Once you have a periodic backup schedule, unneeded files deleted, shortcuts in place, a file structure made and everything filed away, you’ll find your digital clutter is reduced to a manageable level and you will save time (and increase productivity) by being able to find everything faster.