One of the first things one learns in a computer course is how to create a new folder and save a file in that folder. This is of course while simultaneously learning how to draw and color a house in Paint if you belong to the generation of Millenials and adults who grew up as computers were introduced in schools in the early 2000s. We have come a long way since then and as the data on our computer keeps increasing, the need for external and cloud storage have come into the picture however all of this is useless unless one can remember and effectively retrieve a file from a folder where they saved it.
There would have been numerous occasions where you have been asked to retrieve and resend a file that you have previously worked on to a team member or a superior. A good file and folder organization system is the bread and butter of a working professional’s peace of mind yet many of us have not been able to come up or follow a system that works for us and as a result, end up spending quite some time just searching for a file.
A hierarchical approach wherein folders and subfolders can be created based on project or client logic work best. Just think of it as organizing your wardrobe where you have different sections for your clothes, accessories, and boots. In your clothing section, you have different draws and compartments for different items of clothing which are sorted by fabric or color, etc
However, creating too many subfolders in each folder can quickly get out of hand and become messy. If your work is around an annual basis and quarterly folders make more sense then consider that approach. But if your work is more project-based then create folders for each new project.
Shared folders need to created and managed in a system that everyone accessing that folder can understand because everyone has a different way of searching and organization and a common system needs to be agreed upon which is suitable for everyone.
Some of the universally agreed-upon rules for neat and successful file and folder structure include using keywords as names, keeping folder uniques and not saving the same files in two different places and even creating a flow chart for your folders in case it is difficult to remember everything.
Effective Folder Structures to Organize Files
1.Work in Progres, Final and Archives
In this system, once you have your top folders sorted, project, year or client wise, you can begin creating files under three main subcategories where each file you are currently working on is work in progress, the final version for publishing or client is in final folder and files you no longer need are archived. While working in a team, where several individuals are working on the same deliverable, you can also use this and save your final files in a shared folder once you are completed and ready to deliver
2.To Review and From Review
If you are working a junior role or even with a client-facing project, chances are you may be having several rounds of review and editing going into a project, presentation or anything for that matter and this can quickly get out of hand and hard to handle and the result may be sending an older version of a file without the edits when you have already put in time and effort and have the edited file with you. To avoid this embarrassment, create folders with To Review and From Review categories.
Add dates, version and project titles to this. Every time you send it for review, save it and when you receive it with comments, save that too. Then make a copy of the file and then begin working on it before sending it back again.
01 – Draft (to review): As this is the first draft it is generally not yet reviewed. Save it as v1 with a date and project name
02 – First edit (from review): Put this is another folder, add the initials of the reviewer and date when you received it. This will also be v1. Now copy this into ‘to review’ folder and begin working on it. Don’t make any changes to the original file you received this way you can easily track the progress in a report in any cases where a need would arise.
03 – Second draft (to review): This is a copy of what you received after it has been edited and changed. This is v2.
Keep repeating this till you reach your FINAL version and then archive after the project is done as explained in the first point.
I will not put this in the mandatory section as this is subjective to the software that you use and your own preference. Learn how to add Tags to Word Doc when you Save As. Usually, those who prefer saving with Tags do not then rely on file and folder system and use tags to search.
I hope you found this article useful and are able to maintain a neat and organized file and folder structure for your work and personal needs. If you liked this blog be sure to stay subscribed to Wyzebulb Blogs to never miss a new blog post. Also, if you are an organization ninja tell us in the comments what are some of your tips and tricks for file and folder structure and organization.
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