Let me paint you a picture: you’re sitting down, in your perfectly organized, minimalist desk. Your notepad is right beside you, so is your assortment of pens and markers, all pretty in their respective labeled cups. You feel ready to be creative today. You just need to check that one file your client sent you, you know, the one with notes for their next project.
You’re sure you downloaded it, but you check your downloads folder and you can’t spot it in the sea of pictures and PDF’s, you start to get antsy as you scroll up and down, and up and down, and you simply can’t see it. It’s no problem though, because they sent it to you through an email, surely you can download it again, yes? But it’s a bit old, and again, you scroll and scroll, spam email after subscription email after personal emails, and by the time you find it you’ve wasted a stressful half an hour before even trying to start brainstorming.
That’s why we’re here to present you the benefits of keeping your digital workspace organized, and what steps you can take to do it.
Why should you keep your digital files organized?
Easy, you gain all the benefits you do from being organized with your household tasks or at work. By those benefits we mean reduced stress, higher productivity with higher quality work and a nice boost in creativity and self-esteem, all by getting rid of all that time wasted by looking for a Word document for an hour straight.
How can you start?
We get it, it’s kind of hard to start being organized with your laptop files out of nowhere, even more so if it’s not something you’re used to doing often. That’s okay, you don’t have to conquer your documents folder in a day, but with small steps we can reach a consistent level of organization so your workday can be a little easier.
First, start small.
Keeping your desk clean, or decluttering your desk a little can help you gather the mental fortitude to start tackling your digital organization methods. After you’ve taken a deep breath, you can safely start with your email. This is beneficial in a few ways, as emails can be easily divided in a few categories from the get go: personal, business, spam. Using the built in functions of modern email clients, you can assign specific email addresses to folders and sub-folders. Try to keep up this habit for every new client or spam bot. Another thing you can do is delete old emails that you don’t need anymore.
So we’ve organized your email. This has developed few new critical skills, the habit of assigning information to particular folders and purging old, unneeded files that aren’t relevant to you anymore, which is a key component of digital (as well as traditional) filling. Try to keep all files that are relevant to each other by theme in a single folder. If you have a specific client folder, then try to keep everything related to them in that folder, be it pictures, .docx files, PDF’s. Filing by document type might seem fun until you have to send them several types of attachments and you have to wade through too many folders to reach them all.
TIP: How do you know how many folders you need? We leave this to your discretion, but try to follow the principle of easy access. You don’t want folders, inside folders, inside folders, ad infinitum. Think of a traditional filing system: you have your cabinet, generally for a specific purpose, each with a few drawer. Every drawer has a number of labeled separations and inside those there are folders with information. With that, we have about four levels of separation, which allows easy access, while keeping perfect track of where everything is. You can bend this number depending on what you need.
The way you label your folders and documents is incredibly important, as it will help you locate them easier while navigating through your filing system. What’s the point of dividing everything in folders while naming them through random key smashing, after all?
Over everything, try to name things by thinking them through your own internal logic. If the association makes sense in your brain, then you are more likely to organize and find things easier. If you think better in dates, then name files through dates/ If you’re more likely to remember shorthand descriptions, then name files that way. Simpify as much as possible while keeping track of what you need.
TIP: Remember, you can pin folders to the left of the File Explorer if it’s a folder you access frequently. You can also do so for projects you’re working on at the moment. You pin them until you don’t need em’. Remember, it doesn’t have to be permanent.
This is more just a reminder that keeping your files on the cloud organized is equally as important as your local files. Even more so, because you can find yourself sharing links to work with others on shared projects. Cloud systems can also sync up with folders on your computer, so keeping those ordered for accessibility on both File Explorer, through their app or online is also part of having good digital filing habits.
Digital filing has many benefits over traditional document keeping, starting just from the fact you don’t have to move anywhere for the file you need. But if you’re not careful, you can still find yourself tripping over miles over miles of unlabeled, confusing information. It’s even harder to notice a problem on digital because of its lack of the physical proof of a mess, at least, until it’s too late. Which is why it’s even more important to be aware of the importance of keeping a organized digital life. So with this, we wish you luck on your future digital filing endeavors.