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Save Time with Better Naming of Computer Files

November 1st, 2011 · No Comments

These days, most of us have hundreds – or even thousands – of files on our hard drives, both at work and at home. Finding them when we need them can be a major challenge if they aren’t perfectly organized. In fact, when you add up the time most of us spend an average week or month looking for the files we need, it could easily add up to hours that have been lost.

Given that we are always recommending that you keep a clean and organized workspace or task list, does it not make sense to do the same with your computer files? Here are a handful of tips to help you keep your files right where you need them:

Use names, dates, and versions. It is easy, when you are in a hurry, to give a file you are working on a simple name like “Kevin’s new account list.” But what happens when you are searching for that file three months from now? The only way to prevent problems is to develop a system for naming files and folders, and then use it consistently. Over time, it will become second nature, but only if you get into the habit at first.

Develop a file tree. All the major projects in your life or career should have corresponding folders on your computer. Beneath each of those should be sub-folders, moving from the broad to the specific, until you’re down to individual projects, clients, months, and so on. Again, this takes a little bit of discipline at first, but it is a habit that will pay you off for years to come.

Clean your folders and discs once in a while.  Assuming you are backing up your data as often as you should, there is no sense in keeping folders and files that you haven’t used for years –they are just in the way, making it harder to find other items you need now. Try to spend a few hours a month archiving and deleting old information; doing so will make it easier to find the name new files.

Add keywords to scanned documents. Many scanning programs allow you to mark scanned and digital documents with keywords, as well as file names. An invoice from a marketing firm, for example, might be saved with the company name, month, and year. But you could also mark the file with keywords like “expenses,” “marketing,” or “vendor invoice” to make it easier to find in the future.

One way to handle both your paper and electronic files is to use a program like Paper Tiger .  It helps you combine all of your filing with a quick retrieval method and make better use of your time.

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Tags: Computer Productivity

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