My friend, colleague, and business partner, Jonda Beattie, just wrote an article about organizing paper files. I am following up with an article on organizing your digital files. Are you wondering why? Even though we can’t see them, digital files need to be organized, too. I am going to share with you 3 reasons to organize your digital files plus I will tell you how to go about this.
Very often people think that they can just save digital files in their computer and the computer’s search engine will find the file for them – no matter what. This is not necessarily true.
Here are the 3 reasons to organize your digital files
Just like finding a document in a physical filing cabinet, when you mindfully and intentionally file your documents in your computer you will be able to find them quickly and easily.
Reason #1: Save Space
You know you are saving space in your paper filing cabinet, but did you know that when you organize your digital files you also save space in your computer?
Yes. It’s true. A few weeks ago, Jonda advised readers to go through their files and remove any papers that were no longer necessary. Old invoices, insurance updates, old veterinary records, etc.
I advise you to do the same thing with your computer files. When you organize your digital files, you can review the documents each file (or folder) contains. Delete or archive the ones that are obsolete. When you do this, you open up space in your computer, just as you do in a file cabinet drawer.
Reason #2: Keep Your Computer Happy
We rely on our computers for so many things. When our computers are not happy (as in not working well – or at all) we are not happy, right?
Keep your computer happy by reducing the number of things you store on your hard drive. Use your delete key and get rid of things you are no longer referencing. Sometimes I think we hang onto documents or research longer than necessary because we are afraid of needing them – sometime.
Ask yourself if you think you may be able to find more current information another time, if you needed it. If the answer is “yes” then hit delete. If the answer is “no” then create a file for it. More on that in a bit.
Reason #3: Quickly and Easily Find Your Documents
The best reason to organize your digital files is so that you will be able to quickly and easily find the document you are looking for. It is that simple.
Now, let’s talk about how to do that.
Label Your Digital Files
People often ask how to label files. I always reply where would you look for it? When you are searching in a computer you can type in the name of the document. But that requires the document has a label. Yes, you can put key words into the search field and a series of related documents will pop up. Then it is up to you to click into each one until you find the one you are seeking. That can take time.
Start by deciding on the broad category. One such category might be Pets. In my case, I would call the file: Miles and Josie. They are my two dogs. I keep their current shot records in that folder along with the receipts from the veterinarian.
Things to Avoid
Resist the urge to simply save documents on your desktop. It may seem like a quick and easy storage place but then if you continue saving there your desktop will become cluttered with all sorts of documents.
Then, like any space full of clutter, it becomes hard to find what you are looking for.
Likewise, resist the desire to simply select download.
Create a File Folder
Take the time to create a file folder labeled in such a way that will prompt you to remember what the folder contains.
Going back to my example: Miles and Josie. I know that any document related to my dogs belongs in this file.
A great reason to organize your digital files this way is so that you know, without a doubt where to put your documents.
Maintenance is Key
As with any filing system, maintenance is the key to success.
Sometimes, I haven’t thought about where I want to file a certain document in advance. I know it’s something I want to keep so I save it in a pending file.
Once a week, I go through my pending file and think about those documents. Do I really want to keep them? If so, where shall I save them?
I create the labeled files, move the documents, and empty the pending file.
The 3 reasons to organize your digital files are to save space, keep your computer happy, and to quickly and easily find the documents you want to find.
I also reviewed some of the dos and don’ts when organizing your digital files.
The most important thing to remember is to maintain the system you create for yourself. If you get confused or think you’d like some accountability as you go about organizing your digital files consider joining the Clear Space for You clutter support group.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia.