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What's your file management system?

Now, if you're asking, "what is a file management system?" We strongly recommend you keep reading.

When creating a file management system or plan for your computer, here are a few rules and considerations you may want to take into account in order to ensure you can find your files with ease.

1. Save everything in the same place:
By no means are we suggesting that you should save every client project and personal letter in the same folder. We do however, suggest that you save everything to the same main "umbrella" folder where you can create many separate subfolders for work, home, kids files, etc. Saving everything in a single folder simplifies file search and backups by reducing locations to check and/or sychronize. This umbrella folder could be the preset " Documents" folder on your PC.

2. Keep business and personal files separate:
Separate folders for work and personal documents will ensure that you don't accidentally overwrite your project for ABC Company with a letter you wrote to your sister. Avoid embarrassment, and more work, by separating business from pleasure. 

3. Consider your client and project types - don't be afraid of subfolders:
If you have a few regular and ongoing client contracts, you may wish to create folders for each client and subfolders based on separate projects or timeframes, e.g. monthly, quarterly.

Documents -> Work Projects -> ABC Company -> 2013 -> 123Project -> 20130728-ABC-123Project.jpg

If you have many clients with short or one-off tasks, you may wish to create folders based on timeframes or project types if you offer more than one - e.g. "Repair Service", or "Parts Orders".

Documents -> Work Projects -> 2013 -> Repair Service -> 20130423-Repair-Jones.doc

4. Files names are important too:
Take note of the file names that we've used in our examples above. In addition to diligently saving your files in the right place, we also recommend creating a relevant file naming standard to improve searchability. I like to add the date to the beginning of a file name in a YYYYMMDD format; this is particularly helpful when working on a project requiring several revisions. Including client or business names (usually in a shortened form, e.g. initials) before adding the descriptive name of the document can also aid your searches, particularly if you accidentally save it in the wrong directory. 

In the ABC Project directory, the misfiled XYZ Company file stands out.

5. Save it right, from the start.
When starting on a new file, save it right away to ensure it goes to the right place. This will help you avoid rushing, and in turn, making a mistake by trying to do so if you have to leave your task in a hurry. (Which usually leaves your file in the larger umbrella "Documents" file, or even on your desktop...definitely not recommended.)

Do you have any file organization tips? Anything you find particularly useful for your industry? Please share it with us in the comments below.
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Saturday, 17 August 2019

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