Tips for File Management
  • Tips for File Management

    An office environment can be quite stressful.  Working under demanding conditions and short deadlines can lead you to cut corners in your work.  While it may seem you are saving time in the moment, it can (and usually does) lead to wasted time in the future.  A good example of this is creating computer files and folders without having an efficient system of filing.  A lack of structure and organization can lead to hours of frustration and more undue stress searching for files and folders that are lost among a mess of other documents.  Here are a few quick tips to help you manage your files better.

    1.  Draw up a directory tree – This is helpful in visualizing the architecture and hierarchy of your folders and files. It also gives you a chance to minimize folder location paths within the tree by eliminating unnecessary files or folders, which can be a tremendous timesaver.

    2.  Be consistent – It is important to develop a naming scheme that will help you quickly locate folders and retrieve files.

    • Try using abbreviations when dealing with long words. Also, try to keep the character count under 25
    • Try to select a meaningful name that will provide context to the computer user
    • When dealing with files that require similar names, try adding the date and time for added distinction (MMDDYY_HHMMSS)
    • Do not use spaces in your file names. If necessary, use an underscore (_).

    Whatever you may choose to follow as a scheme, it is most important to be consistent.  Once your system is committed to memory, you will be surprised how quickly you can navigate through your files and folders.

    3.  Keep it small – It is ideal to maintain a folder structure that does not require you to do a great deal of down scrolling.  With each window you open, you will want to be able to see its entire contents without the need for scrolling.  To do this, try separating your folders by year or broad subject matter, e.g. Fiscal Year 2010, Proposals, Invoices, etc. Doing this could create a lengthy file structure, however, the benefit of knowing where your files are should outweigh the drawback of extra folder clicking.

    4.  Save in one root location only – This will save you a lot of search time when you know all of your documents are saved within a folder structure in “drive A” as opposed to some being saved in “drive A, drive B and drive C”.  This can make using the windows search tool easier and time saving.  In addition, most office network infrastructures provide network drive locations for each user to save documents to. It is good practice to utilize the network drive as the primary location for saving documents and folders as the drive will more than likely be backed up on a regular basis, thus, minimizing the risk for data loss.

    5.  Save often – When creating or dealing with a document, you should immediately save it in its proper location and frequently save your changes. It can save you time in selecting the location after you finish.  Also, should the application prematurely shutdown and an auto recovery backup isn’t an option, this can save you the time of retyping the document.

    6.  Clean up – Be sure to delete obsolete files.  It helps to keep your folder structure from being cluttered with unnecessary documents and folders. It also helps to free up necessary drive space for new files and folders to be added.

    By following these guidelines, you will save yourself several future headaches. Not only that, you will notice an uptick in your productivity and a decrease in your stress levels!