Have you found yourself on an important call saying to the person on the other end to “Give me a minute.” or “Hold on while I look for this.” Or a client emails you in urgent need of a form, and you can’t seem to locate it. Now you are feeling frantic and rushed, not a great way to feel!
As we are all continuing the move from paper to digital forms, documents and other important paperwork, it is very important to keep those digital files organized just as you would the paper files in your filing cabinet. Keeping everything in your documents folder or on your desktop may not be working well. Yes it’s saved, but can you find it when you need it? It can also be risky should your technology fail and the digital files are not saved elsewhere.
Technology has offered us many options for organization of our digital files. You can use your Google drive, Dropbox or any other system that works well for you. Most of these systems are cloud based, so we aren’t taking up space on our computers and can access these files from anywhere.
Below you will find a few tips to help keep your files organized and your sanity intact!
Building a Filing System:
1. Main Folder Categories ~ To really keep everything so organized that you can go right to it when needed, break everything down into categories. Picture the documents as file folders in a filing cabinet. You have a “drawer” for each main category.
My three main categories are:
- Clients ~ the people/businesses I work for
- Business ~ the documents I use to run my business
- Personal ~ anything not business related
2. Subfolders ~ From the folders in your main categories, you can then create subfolders. This would be what is inside each category drawer, your individual files. For instance, for my clients I have a folder labeled clients, then I have subfolders with each client’s name. From there I can break folders and files down even further by project type such as intake form, website update, email newsletter. This way I know that everything I have for Client A can be found in the folder labeled Client A. Easy peasy! And when Client A reaches out to me in need of something, I can retrieve it very quickly.
Bonus Tip ~ Utilize the search feature if you are having trouble locating something. I find this to be so handy, particularly when I am pushing a deadline or time crunch.
3. Naming folders ~ Use names that are meaningful to you. Be sure to label your folder and subfolders well, truly reflecting what is located in that folder. Having a system for naming folders will help you when searching for what you need. If you have a system and stick to that system, you will be less likely to deviate and cause confusion when searching for your files.
Bonus Tip ~ Our work days can become quite hectic leaving little time to sort files. If you find this is happening to you, set aside time on your calendar (daily, weekly, whatever works best for you) to “clean up” your files.
While everyone’s digital filing system is likely to differ some, the concept remains the same. Have everything categorized and labeled well so you can quickly navigate to it when needed. It may take some time and an adjustment period to really get in the groove of staying organized, but you will be happy you did the next time you are on that call searching for something you need. Happy filing!