Digital files of any sort seem to have this inconsequential way of being able to replicate almost infinitely. With cloud backups, emails, and multiple versions of files, it can be hard to keep track of what you have. Organizing digital files can be a really overwhelming process for lots of people, especially since the results aren’t as gratifying as they are with decluttering and organizing physical stuff. However, when you can set aside some time to get comfortable with your device and do some decluttering and organizing, your life will be so much more productive! In this post, I’ll give you my top tips for organizing digital files.
- If your files aren’t already backed up, make that the priority. Do you store your files directly on your computer? Or do you use something like Dropbox or Google Drive?
- Organizing digital files can be tedious and time consuming. My advice here is to break it up into manageable chunks. Don’t try to do too much at once and burn out. If you can spend 15 minutes a day (or even 15 minutes once a week) on your digital files, you will make great progress. Also- don’t strive for perfection. Just get things “good enough” so you can move on and do things you enjoy more.
- Declutter anything that’s obviously extraneous. Check your downloads files and desktop for things that you don’t need, and delete them.
- Decide how and where you will store certain types of documents. I use Dropbox (installed on my computer) for the majority of my documents, but I also use Google Drive for another category of documents. Both Google Drive and Dropbox can be easily accessible on multiple devices and the documents can easily be shared with other people. You can also store documents to iCloud, or directly to your hard drive (if you have an external backup drive). I store the majority of my photos in the Photos app on my Mac, but specific categories of photos I store with their corresponding documentation on Dropbox. If you haven’t decided how you want to store things, I recommend playing with both Dropbox, iCloud, and Google Drive to see how you like how they’re structured.
- Rename files and folders so you can easily find what you need. Create naming conventions, and be consistent. The term “naming conventions” refers to a set of rules that you give to your titles of your documents and folders so that you aren’t using different words to mean the same thing, and that the format of the titles is consistent. This will help you identify and find files quickly. Keep the names meaningful. Depending on what you are filing will dictate how the files are named and stored. For example, if you are organizing scanned receipts, you may want to create a folder that has the year, “2023”, and then the month, “June”. Within that folder, you may want to have files that say, “6.20_$150_Costco”. Or you may want to create a simple folder that says “Receipts”. Within that folder, you could have another folder that says “Costco” (and “Electric”, “State Farm”, “Honda”, etc…) and within that organize the receipts by date. The way you organize your files really has to do with how you’ll need to retrieve the files in the future, or if you need to communicate a group of files with someone else. Keep it as simple as possible! Don’t make the titles of your folders or documents longer or more complicated than they need to be. And don’t bury folders within folders within folders too deep. Sure, it makes sense to have some folders within folders, but if you bury a document within several layers of folders, it will be hard to find, and it will also discourage you from filing things properly.
- Now that you’ve decided how/where you’re going to store your files, and you’ve created general naming conventions, take another look at the files you have. Sort your files into folders that really make sense to you. Keep things simple. Delete duplicates or old versions of files that you don’t need anymore.
- In addition to your computer files, you might have an email inbox that needs attention too! You can create folders in your email system that mirror your files on the computer. Email search engines make it relatively easy to find what you’re looking for, so keep your folders simple. Don’t try to hyper-categorize emails. You’ll probably also have to designate time to unsubscribing from promotional emails that you’re not interested in, and bulk deleting email you don’t want. You can use the search bar to type in things like “New York Times” to pull up all your emails from the New York Times, so you can bulk delete the ones you don’t want.
- Smart phones can get clogged up with digital files too! I have to regularly go through my Notes app to delete old notes or lists. You can also delete apps you don’t use, podcasts you don’t want, and extra photos and videos. This will free up tons of space on your device!
- If you’re unable to organize your files due to technical difficulties, contact my friend Scott Schweiger of Tech Hero Support. He has been my personal “go-to” computer guy for years, and he has helped lots of my clients as well. He’s awesome!!
Spend some time today on the computer, organizing your files.
Are you happy with how much you’re earning? Or would you like to bring in more? This may seem counterintuitive, but collect all of your loose change and exchange it for higher bills, and spend it. Gather up all of your unused gift cards, and spend those too. Do this all within the next 7 days. This is a great way to be grateful for what you already have and to invite in more abundance.
Do you have cash laying around in the form of packages to be returned to the store? Send those back. Another thing on most people’s to-do list is to list something for sale online. It could be that unused piece of furniture taking up space in your garage, or it could be some old electronics you want to list on Ebay. Get these items into good hands, and use the money for something that supports the “You” that you are now.
Posted By Jean Prominski, Certified Professional Organizer
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