4 Irrefutable Laws of Organizing e-Files

April 8, 2015

2:00 pm

While computers have made our lives easier in many ways, they have also complicated many things that used to be simple.

For those of us who spend tons of time creating and saving documents, Excel workbooks, PDFs, and various downloads to our computers, keeping an order to your work can be difficult, to say the least.

To help you get the most out of your computer and access what you need when you need it, here are four irrefutable tenets of organizing e-files.

1. Avoid Saving and Creating Multiple Copies

Is it correct to blame our sometimes irrational fear of deleting files? Possibly, but perhaps it helps to look more closely at how destructive the non-destructive workflow can be.

Many office employees create and save multiple versions of a report or presentation while they’re working on it, just in case anything goes wrong. By the time they finish, there could be as many as five or six different versions. And each one of them gets backed up.

Occasionally what can happen is that duplicate files are created by accident. Thankfully, programs such as Duplicate Cleaner find and safely remove them. This particular program receives regular updates and comes highly recommended.

One trick to avoid duplicating files in the first place is to create shortcuts. And if you’re at all concerned about cluttering your desktop, there are ways to create order out of chaos when grouping icons.

2. Find Workarounds for Compatibility Issues

Most people will have experienced the frustration that comes with compatibility issues and documents refusing to open correctly on different machines. It’s not fun.

If your work requires you to send documents around the world, Antenna House offers professional typesetting software and ensures you send the right document every time. This will save you headaches and will decrease the number of formats you’ll need on hand.

Alternatively, create a folder and label it “Archive” or even “z.Archive” to ensure it remains at the bottom of your “My Documents” folder and send all of your obsolete files to this folder without deleting them.

This will make it easier for you to locate the final versions at a glance, and it eliminates the need to toggle the view. Remember, it’s more about organizing your files than freeing up your hard drive, though you can delete the contents of this folder at any time.

3. Keep Subfolders to a Minimum

The longer it takes to navigate your “Subfolder Forest” to find or save an important file, the more likely you are to create new folders and subfolders. This only serves to further compound the problem.

Subfolders are great, but after a certain point they become counter-productive. A good example of a systematic approach that limits our tendency to create folders within folders is to categorize things according to project name and date, and then place them with a parent “Work” folder.

4. Embrace the Cloud and Get Rid of Clutter

When you browse the internet, you’re likely to stumble across things you’ll immediately want to keep, but opening Microsoft Word, copying the information and saving the document really does a number on your filing system.

This is why Cloud-based applications were created. Google Docs and Evernote are wonderful for organizing, searching and creating notes with ease.

In addition, there are free services such as Dropbox that sync to the Cloud remotely and allow users to store, share and edit documents from any computer with access to the internet.

If you embrace these new technologies, you’ll be surprised at the simplicity they’ll bring to your life.

The next time you log in to your computer, take some time to organize your files and recondition yourself to saving documents in more efficient ways.

It probably won’t happen overnight, but it won’t take long before you’ll have a handle on the situation and your daily productivity.

Image by Kaboompics

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Kayla Matthews is a tech productivity blogger who writes for MakeUseOf and The Gadget Flow. Follow Kayla on Google+ and Twitter, or read her latest posts on her blog, Productivity Bytes.

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