Can you find the files on your computer or smart phone, or do you find it easier to just re-create the document?
Regardless of where you work, vast amounts of electronic information are now part of the typical workspace. “eClutter” affects productivity and increases stress in much the same way that paper clutter does.
Here are 6 tips to help you find what you need on your computer.
Use Clear File Naming Conventions – When computers were first introduced to the working population, there was a limit on how you could name your files. This led to very cryptic names. Fortunately, today technology has advanced. You can now name your files just about anything you want. Avoid using shortened naming conventions to name your files. It is helpful to be able to immediately recognize what a document is from the file label.
Be Consistent in Your File Naming – Work to create a file naming standard for both your electronic and paper files and folders. For example, “Financial Plan – Home version 3” or “2006 Sales Proposal – S. Hammitt.”
Find Your Important Files Fast – Most computer programs display folders and files in alphabetical order, with numbers coming before letters. In order to use this to your advantage, put a digit, such as 0, 1, 2, etc. in front of your folders or files that you use most often. For example, you could name a file “0 Phone Calls for Today”, or “1 To Do List.” By putting the digit in front of the name, you will always have your most frequently used folders and files appear at the top of the list. Note, you can frequently use this technique with your email folders as well.
Make Finding Your Digital Photos Easy – The digital photo industry has taken all of us by storm, and why not? It is wonderful! The cameras often provide great picture quality with instant gratification. You instantly know if you got the shot of your son or daughter making that adorable face . . . Many camera makers, such as Kodak, have made downloading all of your digital image files as easy as pressing a button and presto! They are all on your computer. The downside is that loaded straight from your camera, your images have cryptic file names. If you don't have time to rename every file, start by downloading like photos to a specific folder. For example “2008.08.24 – David First Day of School.” This folder contains all of the photos that we took for my son's first day of school as well as the day the shots were taken.
Match Your Paper and Electronic Filing – Organize the files in your computer to match your paper filing system — use the same categories, sub-categories, and file names. Then, if you have paper files that correlate to your electronic files, name the paper files the same thing. Why learn two filing systems when you don't have to?
Start Your Files with the Year then The Rest of the Date – If you have a practice of using the creation date as a part of the file's name, consider starting the naming with the year first. So, if you had a file that was created on January 03, 2008, rather than saying 01032008 (where all 01 items would sort together regardless of year) try 20080103. This allows everything to be sorted chronologically by year and then month and day. All of one year will automatically be sorted together.
By using these tips and techniques you will be able to find your electronic files quickly and with little effort.
To your success!