When your computer is a digital mess, it can be difficult to locate important files and hard to focus on the task at hand. But spending a couple of hours deleting a bunch of files is only a temporary fix. In a few months time, your files will have run wild once again, and you’ll be right back where you started. To get and keep things in order, you’ll need is a system.
Your files should have clear and logical break downs, to make searching easy. For example:
Work Documents > Graphic Design > Clients > Harry Miller > Final Logo Designs
This is better than simply storing the document under ‘Work Documents’ and risking not being able to find it – or sending an earlier iteration of logo designs. You can use your folders as a ‘To-Do’ assistant, too. In this case, a ‘For Approval’ folder would work well where documents could be temporarily stored while they await client approval.
Consistently naming files is the only way to make searching for files easy. Decide on a naming pattern for certain kinds of files and stick to it. TextExpander can help here by allowing you to store your file naming pattern in a snippet, ready to expand whenever you need it. Here’s a snippet we use for TextExpander blog post images:
This way, all our images are neatly filed away and easily searched.
Learn how to create your own file naming snippets.
Having a hard drive fail on you whilst working on a big project can cost hours of work. And it needn’t be a big project. Losing photographs, articles, academic papers, among other important documents, can be upsetting as well as time-consuming. Back up your files in as many ways possible, or at least one onsite backup and one offsite backup.
For offsite backup consider a service such as Backblaze. Even just using Dropbox for file storage, while not a real back up, is still better than not. For onsite storage, set up an external hard drive with regular automatic backups. Macs have made this simple with Time Machine. Windows also has options for automatically backing up your files.
Being organized means taking preventative measures to avoid future hassle.
Don’t just leave files lying around on the desktop looking cluttered. Schedule some time to go thru and either get rid of the temporary stuff, or file it appropriately.
You can also use some automation to help with the clutter, though be wary of “out of site, out of mind”.
If you’re using a Mac, Automator can perform an action to move a file somewhere else. For example, screenshots are saved the the desktop by default. You can use automator to have those files saved to the desktop and then automatically moved to another folder, perhaps more appropriately named “Screenshots”. Windows users can use Task Scheduler to automatically move files.
Your Desktop Organisation Checklist
- Uninstall unused programmes.
- Group together similar documents (work documents, vacation photos, etc).
- Delete files you don’t need.
- Rename the remaining files. Consider using a TextExpander snippet to name your files. consistently.
- Organize your folders to suit your workflow. For example, tax documents can be organized by year, but you may wish to have work projects organized by client.
- Consider using Automator (Mac) or Task Scheduler (Windows)](https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/desktop/taskschd/task-scheduler-start-page) to automatically move files.
- Create a ‘To Delete’ folder for files you need temporarily. Empty it once a week.
- Find a backup solution that suits your needs. Take a look at services such as Backblaze.
- Schedule a daily review of the desktop to tidy up files.
What You Can Do Today?
Backup your documents! You won’t have any files to organize if a data disaster strikes.