A Simple Key To Digital File Organization
Written by: Suman Shekar Sarangi
If your desktop looks like this, then we need to talk.
Folders, folders, and more folders. It doesn’t matter what you do for work, you HAVE TO manage files and documents in some type of folder. They may be directly from your computer or they could be stored on a cloud service.
Making a mess out of your computer files is quite easy because digital files don’t weigh anything and they don’t take any physical space, so they can’t really create a visible mess on your desk.
However, it is important to create a usable structure to organise digital files, because digital clutter can cloud the mind and hamper your focus significantly.
Importance of Digital Decluttering:
Digital Decluttering can make a huge difference in our level of productivity, creativity, our mindset, and our ability to start new tasks and focus on those we should be tackling right now.
If there is one person that deserves the credit for bringing to light the significance of decluttering, it’s author Marie Kondo. She says, “ Discard everything that does not spark joy.”
In this article, I’m sharing a few tips on how you can organise and systematise files within your computer, cloud services, browser, emails, and mobile phones. Let's begin!
#1: Simplify Your File Structure
Creating an organizational structure of folders makes it easy to find anything you’re looking for quickly. And there’s a couple of rules here.
Every single file in your system should be within a specific folder.
You need a structure that makes it easy to find any file or folder quickly.
You should start putting folders inside folders, in a nested structure. A sample diagram presented below can give you an idea on how to do this. Scroll down to read a detailed explanation of this structure.
First of all, you should create a root folder (in this case MY FOLDERS). All other folders, subfolders, and files should be allocated inside the root.
There a variety of ways in which you can organize your digital files, such as:
1. Organize by category
Here, you organize files based on the category they belong to. For example, different categories could be study, work, entertainment, games, software, etc.
2. Organize by Name
Your files should be named relatively specifically, not vaguely. You should be able to know at a glance what it means within the context of its location in your root folder.
3. Use dates to organize different versions of the same file
In case you’re working in a file and want to keep past versions available to you, then organize files according to their last modified date to identify all the different versions by order. A sample of this can be seen in the image below-
4. Back up files regularly
This is pretty self-explanatory. Back up files so you won’t lose them. You can use the cloud service or hard drive to back up files.
5. Delete files after you backed them up
Know when to identify when a certain folder is no longer useful and get rid of it. This step is crucial for keeping your work organised in the long run.
As long as you maintain the integrity of that file tree, as long as you maintain the vigilance when sharing files and creating new folders, you’re never going to lose another file again and you’re gonna be so much more organized.
#2: Simplify Your Email Inbox
Whether you are a student, or a professional, clearing your email out of all the useless junk you accumulate will clear your workspace and give you laser sharp focus.
There are quite a few things you can do to simplify your inbox in order to effectively organize your emails.
Firstly you should unsubscribe once and for all to newsletters, promotions and stuff like that that you don’t need or want. Over time, you’ll see receiving a lot less junk in your inbox. There are a couple of third-party services out there as well that do this job for you, such as unroll.me or unsubscriber.
Second, you can also use labels to keep your inbox organized. To make it a lot easier, you can even specify colours to your labels according to your preference. Look at the image below to see how this works. I would say that doing this sort of thing really felt like it had a positive impact on my clarity and focus.
#3: Simplify Your Browser
It is important to talk about browsers, something that I think is often overlooked. We should set it up to be more efficient in order to avoid distractions.
As you can see in the image below, I’ve organized my bookmark tab into specific bookmark folders that are valuable to me. You should always organize websites using a bookmark to make it easier to find them. But overtime, these bookmarks can get out of control, and that's where these folder come in handy. Just click on your bookmarks icon, and the 'New Folder' option will pop up.
#4: Simplify your Desktop
As you can see, my desktop has absolutely no files on it. It’s just nice when you are turning on your computer in the morning to not have anything jump out at you.
Only keep apps on your desktop that you use every day or, if you can, try to keep it super clean without any apps.
Talking about taskbar, only select the most important apps that you wanna keep. I prefer to keep only productive, study and work-related apps.
For safety and backup purposes, I prefer storing my files in cloud sync apps. Using a cloud sync app has numerous benefits:
Files are kept up to date across your entire system.
Access to your files from wherever you are as long as you are logged in.
#5: Organize Your Drive
As you can see, my drive looks pretty simple too. No clutter at all.
It is really important to not label folders vaguely because you’re not gonna remember what’s in them.
Once again this requires some upfront work but once you have a system in place that you are committed to, it’s amazing how much easier it is to find what you’re looking for, to not get pulled away by distractions.
"The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t".
We need to appreciate the value of keeping a clean digital environment. It not only makes the process seamless but also allows you to work efficiently and productively.
A proper organization system should include all aspects of managing documents including storage, security, and backups. If you follow these tips to organize your digital files, then it’d be easy for you to find files that you’re looking up every time.
If you find these tips helpful, please share them on your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Would you like more blog posts like this? Please let me know in the comments, or I’ll never know. Thank you for reading.