I continue to believe that one of the most important steps in getting organized is to take some time before you begin to really think about what you need to make a system work. It’s not enough to simply pick up someone else’s system and put it in place in your own life without this step because if the system isn’t tailored for your own preferences and lifestyle, it won’t work long term.
This week, as we look at ways to organize digital files, let’s start by thinking through your needs so that you’re better able to make decisions about which system will work best for you.
Type of Files
- Do you store lots of pictures? Music? Videos?
- Are your files mostly documents and spreadsheets?
- Do you have different categories of files to keep track of, i.e. Business, Family, School, etc.?
- Do you archive files by person? By date? By type?
- When you look at the files on your computer, what categories and subcategories seem obvious?
Accessing Your Files
- Do you mostly use your computer to store files (such as pictures), but not necessarily to access those files regularly?
- Do you work with your files on an everyday or weekly basis?
- Do you have files that need to be encrypted or password protected?
- Do you have files that need to be shared over a network?
- Do you use more than on computer?
Storage and Backup
- Is storage an issue on your computer? Do you have to archive your files to DVD or an external hard drive or are they all stored on your hard drive?
- Does your computer have any performance issues because of the number of files stored on it?
- Do you have a system in place to make sure you’re regularly backing up your files?
Purging Your Files
- Are you a digital file pack rat, with dozens of files that you haven’t touched in years?
- Do you regularly clean out the files that you no longer need?
- How do you decide what to keep and what to toss?
Take a few minutes today to go through the folders and files on your computer and get an idea of what you have and how they can be sorted. Don’t worry about actually sorting them yet; just start thinking about how you might best organize them to give yourself easy access to both the files you need on a regular basis and those that you keep for record-keeping purposes.