In today’s world, most, if not all, of your records are stored in digital files. While most of this information is searchable, having an organizational system in place will save you time in the long run.
Even though you may not notice that extra minute or two it took you to find a certain document, it’s a minute or two that you didn’t have to do something else. And how many times during the day are you wasting a minute here and a minute there? How much time over the week? The month? If you were to actually look at all this time in one lump sum, it would surprise you. But let’s just stop that from happening in the first place.
What Do I Mean By Digital Files?
So what all am I talking about here? I’m talking about all the files that you have saved on your computer, external hard drive, and in the cloud. Absolutely everything. Word documents, pictures, school papers, medical records. And if you store your files in all three of these, it is even more important that you have a system in place. This way you are always searching for the same file in the same way.
What Kind of System?
I throw this word system around a lot. And what I mean here is to pick a way to name all your folders and subfolders so you know exactly where something is located. And then to make sure the names are consistent everywhere your digital files are stored.
The more you work in the same system, the more like second nature it will become.
So while it may take a little time up front to get all of your digital files organized, if you fully integrate it into your life, the upkeep will be minimal. As long as you commit to staying on top of it.
How to Create a System That Works For You
Because there are countless ways to store digital files, it’s difficult for me to just snap some screenshots of how I have my own files organized.
Every person also has their own individual style of organizing. If you have systems in place already that are working for you, then just maintain those systems.
If the systems you have in place aren’t working for you, or you have no system to speak of, then I will walk you through some steps you can take to get a system in place.
Take a look at the files you currently have stored. Are they only Word documents? Are there also pictures? Or do you scan and store everything that used to be kept in your file cabinet? This will determine how much you need to categorize everything.
To help you out with this process, I have created a worksheet for you use to break your categories down. The first page is a blank worksheet for you to fill out, and then the second is an example to see how it’s used. It’s set up in an outline format, so it’s easy to create a logical flow. So make sure you grab a copy!
If you only have personal documents, one way to organize them would be by family members. Then create subcategories under each for school, work, and so on to cover the different types of documents that they are. Then create different subcategories under each as necessary. For example, different work projects.
Also, if you store all your receipts, tax information, medical records, veterinary information, and so on, these should also be categorized and subcategorized accordingly.
Now, if personal documents are all that you have saved, then each category would have its own file. If you also have business documents, or anything else, then you would create a personal file, a business file, and so on.
If you have a lot of pictures, the most common way to organize is by events. This doesn’t cover all the normal day-to-day pictures, though. You could group these by person or date. For example, if there are a lot of pictures of you children, create a category for each child, and then a subcategory for each year, season, or half-year. You could also create subcategories for the different groups they are in.
Your pictures are generally going to be kept in a separate area altogether. If you only have pictures saved, then you would just create your different categories. If you also have video or other media, then you would want to create different categories for each with their subcategories.
If you have a lot of pictures for your business, you can either create a category for those here. Or you can store them with all of your other business files. This is what I do to save time when working on something.
Now, if you work from home in any capacity or have your own business, I’m sure you have a ton of digital files.
I am regularly downloading graphics I created, as well as stock photos, PDFs, you name it. If I were to just let this all sit in my downloads file, it would take me forever to pull the file I’m looking for. I try to move all these to their permanent home daily. Or if I download a batch of graphics for a post or promotion, I move them all to their own folder immediately.
So, within my documents folder, I have a SpikedParenting folder. Within this folder, I have a folder for blog posts, newsletters, business workbooks, and then my accounting and tax information. And within each of these folders, I have numerous subfolders.
In my blog post folder, I have a separate folder for each post. Then I have subfolders for the graphics and another for any opt-ins I created for the post.
I keep a copy of any stock images I use with the graphics I created, as well as in a stock photo folder.
But this is just how I organize my own business. As I am expanding, my folders are changing. And that’s to be expected.
How you organize your own files are going to depend on how your business is organized and on how you operate. And don’t be afraid to change it up if the system you create isn’t a perfect fit! The best, most efficient system will only come about through trial and error.
And one final note—don’t make this too difficult. There is a fine line between creating a system that will work and creating one that is too tedious to maintain. So start small. Then, add a little here and there as you go. This way you are organizing in a way that will work for you, and not trying to force yourself into something that may not work at all.
Did this article help you develop a way to organize your digital files? Or are you stuck? Go ahead and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like some help. Ready to get serious? Book a FREE discovery call to learn more about my professional business organizing services!
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