A follow up to last week’s question about where your old files are!
In the 70’s and 80’s there was a public service announcement (PSA) that would come on each night at 10 pm, right before the news. It would ask, in a serious voice, if you knew where your children were.
The goal was to remind parents to keep their kids at home rather than let them wander the streets. I don’t know if it was effective or not, but the phrase has become part of our social history. And it got me thinking…it’s 10 pm, do you know where your documents are?
No, we’re not trying to keep your forms and letters off the street, but one of the first steps in organizing is figuring out where everything lives. For some people, it’s an easy question to answer – all their documents live on their computer. But for others, the question is more complex.
I held on to some old 3.5 ‘floppy’ discs for a long time before I was able to transfer the data. Right now I know there are used external hard drives and USB drives with files on them collecting dust in my closet. And that doesn’t even get into cloud storage. How many different services are you using to store, share, and access your documents?
When you organize your files, documenting where everything is helps you figure out where everything is going. It’s great to want everything in one place, but that only works if there is room there. And what about those documents that need to be shared? Those usually have to stay in cloud storage until the sharing is done (if it ever is!)
If you’re ready to organize your files, take a moment to think about where everything is. When it’s time to move your documents, we often suggest using the same file structure regardless of what platform/computer you are on – same file setup in Dropbox as on your computer. This makes it easier to file things when you’re in a rush.
Don’t forget, once you’ve got everything organized, it’s time to make sure your backup plan is in place to keep all your files safe! I recommend using an online backup system like Carbonite or BackBlaze.
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Are you ready for more organized files? Is it time to stop searching, and searching, for that one document you need right now, but can never find. How many times are you going to recreate a form because you can’t find the original? It’s frustrating and all that searching is just wasting time you could spend doing something you actually like to do. (unless you’re me, who loves organizing files 🙂 )
So now’s the time to get organized! Check out my Four Steps to Organized Files. It seems like a lot of information, but don’t worry, you don’t have to complete the process in a single day. Instead, take 10 – 15 minutes a day to tackle the folders and files and before you know it, you’re on your way to a better organized system that allows you to be more productive (and gives you more time for you!).
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Determine Your File Structure
How do you want your files to be arranged? Are you separating business from personal files? What about your financial files? Are they different for business versus personal? A flat structure – one with fewer subfolders – is the best place to start.
When you are first determining your file structure, think big categories like Marketing, Continuing Education, Financials, etc. As you add files into these folders, you will begin to see where you need subfolders. Don’t worry about getting your structure right the first time. Your file structure is a living document that gets fine-tuned as you go.
Step 2: Gather Your Files
Where do your files hang out? You might be surprised how far-flung your documents are. Check out your cloud storage sites like Dropbox, Google Drive, (don’t forget OneDrive!), current and old computers, USB drives, external hard drives, and wherever else you can think they could be hiding. Don’t forget to check for documents you may be sharing with someone else.
Step 3: Find Your New Home
Once you’ve got all your documents accounted for, determine what is going to live where (and if there is actually room for those documents there). It may not be realistic to have everything in one location. Cloud storage offers you easy access regardless of where you are, but many people are only on one computer, so remote access isn’t that big of an issue.
Do you need to share documents with others? This may be another reason to consider cloud storage in addition to or in place of computer storage. Regardless of where you put your documents, make sure they can be backed up for the greatest security.
Step 4: Move Documents
You’ve created your structure in the new location, now is the time to move your documents. Don’t forget to be cautious with those shared documents in cloud storage. These are ones you might not be able to move right away or be able to move at all based on how and who is doing the sharing. Once you have your documents moved to their new homes, make sure your backup system is in place to provide peace of mind and protection for all that hard work you’ve done!
You’re done! How’s it feel to be in charge of your documents, rather than letting them run your day? Better good, right? Now it’s time to keep up what you worked so hard to achieve. Make sure you are creating and saving documents in the ‘right place’.
Do you have time for an extra step? Run a duplicate file finder program. Check out an earlier Ilios Blog Post for suggestions!
Need some assistance organizing your files? Looking for more in-depth instructions on how to get started? Let’s talk! Schedule your Discovery Conversation today!
When it comes to organizing papers, people generally fall into two categories – the pilers and the filers. Filers tend to put papers away in cabinets/drawers, while pilers stack their documents where they can be seen and remembered.
There are benefits to both ways of life. Those who pile like to say there is an organizational method to their madness. For many people, having information out where you can see it and easily access it is key to their productivity.
However, for filers, these piles can be distracting. They may function best when their work station is clear of documents and other papers. To recall things, filers rely on a carefully created file structure and hierarchy.
Regardless of which way you manage your information, take advantage of well-labeled folders or binders, as well as a solid organizational structure to increase your productivity.
When creating labels use words you know and understand. Don’t label something Auto if you refer to it as Car or Toyota. The best label choices are the ones you use most frequently. I tell clients that they should use the first word that comes to mind when they are trying to find something. If you have to look in more than one location for a document, considering moving it to the first place you looked, even if it doesn’t fit ‘conventional wisdom’.
When it comes to organizing your papers, filers often take advantage of traditional file cabinets or smaller file storage boxes. Pilers may find stacking boxes like these at the Container Store helpful in managing their information. Remember, the best system is one that works for you so don’t be afraid to try different configurations till you figure it out.
If you want more help getting your files in shape, let me know! Schedule a Discovery Conversation and we can talk!
Week 4: Digital Bookmarks
I’m as guilty as anyone else of bookmarking more than I need to. But it’s just so easy to click the little save button when you find something interesting. Browser bookmarks are a convenient way to keep track of those things you don’t have time to review now but don’t want to leave as an open tab.
(Hint, open tabs are too easily lost if you accidentally shut down your browser or your computer. )
But how many of us have a ginormous list of bookmarks, many of which we don’t even remember saving?
There’s an easy way to remedy that. Take 5 – 10 minute a day to go through your bookmark list. First, check to make sure the link is still valid. Then, determine if you are still interested in the information. As David Allen says, if you can read it through/review the site in two minutes or less, do it! Don’t forget to remove the bookmark once you’re done with the site.
Need to save the bookmark for future reference? Find a way to store those ‘permanent’ bookmarks separate from the ‘still need to review this info’ bookmarks. Most browsers will allow you to organize your bookmarks into folders as a way of keeping things sorted out. You could also use Evernote or OneNote as a bookmark reference tool.
You made it to the end of the challenge! Great job on sticking with it! If you joined us for the entire challenge this month I hope your computer is a bit more organized and things are easier to find. Has the increased organization led to greater productivity for you? More free time that you were spending looking for things?
If you want to take a more in-depth look at organizing your computer, you can let me know by signing up for a Discovery Conversation today! I’d love to chat about your organizing goals.
And as always, if you’d rather receive your udpates via email, then don’t forget to Sign up for the Ilios Digital Tips and Tricks newsletter!
Is your computer bogged down with too many icons and too many bookmarks? Are there files and documents everywhere but where you need them? Is all that junk getting in your way and slowing down your productivity? Maybe it’s time for a computer cleanup!
Join me this month as we clear away the clutter and streamline our computers!
Week 3: Desktop files and downloads folder
Congrats! You’ve made it halfway through the challenge! How has it been so far? Have you found it challenging to get your contacts organized or your email straightened out? How’s your productivity going with the increased organization?
Did you know that a cluttered desktop can lead to a slower performing computer? In addition, files that live on the desktop may not be syncing with iCloud or Dropbox or your backup software. Finally, without an organization plan, your desktop can get so cluttered that it is hard to find what you need.
This week, take 10 minutes a day to go through the files littering your computer desktop. Then, move the files to their more appropriate home. Once you’ve cleaned it off, make sure that you save new documents to a documents folder instead of on the desktop.
The downloads folder is an easy place to put things you may only need temporarily. But don’t forget to go through the folder once a week or so and clean out those documents you no longer need, or move the ones you want to keep to their permanent home.
Join us next week to talk about digital bookmarks!
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