How to Organize Your Computer Files
From the digital hoarder to the fairly organized individual, following these simple steps will show you how to organize your computer files and help you to organize your digital life!
Step 1 – Don’t Fear the Delete Button
As we go through our day, we digest very large amounts of data in the form of files and emails and if not deleted, will only make more work for you later.
“You just downloaded a form and printed it?” DELETE IT!
“You receive an email that there’s cake in the lunchroom” DELETE IT!
“You just received 50 emails about some online shopping deals” DELETE IT!
Take that one second to press the delete button and it can save you precious time when searching for the emails and files that really matter later.
Step 2 – A Document Isn’t an Image and an Image isn’t a Video
- Pictures should go in the “Picture” folder
- Music in the “Music” folder
- Movies and videos in the “Video” folder
- Everything else in the “Documents” folder
Maybe I'm being facetious, but really it makes everything so much more simple plus this servers two purposes:
- First, it organizes your files by type. Simple right?
- Second, with this setup, you can easily use a cloud backup strategy to “sync” those types of files with a cloud service like google photos, dropbox, etc.
Step 3 – Keep it Simple, I Mean REALLY Simple
When organizing your files, don’t make it so complicated that you dread clicking on the documents folder because of the physics degree it will take to decipher where you placed that file. Instead, keep these rules in mind:
- Limit folder creation - Every file doesn’t need its own folder. Group by subject, date, or project depending on the need.
- Think Hierarchies – Create a folder for the common subject and then organize it by sub-subject under that.
- Try to not go more than three folders deep.
- Name folders and files with descriptive wording. Naming a folder Project doesn’t tell you what it is but “Project – Organizing Files” tells you exactly what it is.
Pro Tip “Don’t place anything on your desktop. Instead, create a folder called “Delete me” for all those temporary files that don’t really need a home. That way you can periodically clear that folder out and not worry about deleting something important”
Step 4 – Learn to Use the Computer's Search Function
Want to find something quick? Simply search for it.
“But I’m not sure of the exact file name,” you say? Use wild cards! Wild cards will allow you to search only using a keyword used in the file when using the * character.
So, for example, you know it’s an excel file and you know it had 'budget' in the name. Type *budget*.xls to search for the file and it will return anything that has the word ‘budget” and ends in .xls. Pretty cool huh?
Now that you have the knowledge of how to organize your folders, apply the same steps to your email and your inbox will be a lean, clean, clutter-free machine.