It’s the end of the month, and you need to cross-reference your credit card statement with your bank records. You pull open the file drawer only to find it bursting at the seams. You can’t even read the titles on the file folders because half of them are lodged underneath other bulging folders. After a good hour spent sifting through the bank file, you remember that you never got around to filing it in the first place (you probably opened the drawer last week and decided you didn’t have time to fight that battle). The bank statement is actually on your kitchen counter, covered in orange juice from yesterday’s breakfast.
File management of the paper variety can be frustrating. Unless you have upwards of 20 drawers in a convenient location, you will always have to put forth quite a bit of effort to store and retrieve what you want. Electronic file management, on the other hand, doesn’t have to be so difficult. Sometimes we get just as frustrated looking for a file on our computer as we do while looking through our paper caches, but with a few simple steps, electronic file management can be a breeze.
The first thing we need to do is put all of our files in the proper location. We should have a music folder, a photos folder, and a documents folder. Think of these main file locations as the file cabinets. Keeping similar formats organized together allows you to more easily watch a slideshow of your photos, listen to your music from your computer, or attach a document to an e-mail.
Once you’ve divided your files into main category locations, it’s time to sub-categorize. Within your documents folder, for example, you can have a separate folder for school papers, work files, recipes, blog entries, etc. These are the drawers of your file cabinets, so to speak. Don’t get too specific with these sub-categories just yet.
After you create the sub-folders you can get more specific. Now you can have a folder devoted to a particular client or subject in school. You can separate your music by artist. You can begin to divide your pictures by event. You can categorize these sub-folders however you wish. Maybe you would like to search for past invoices by date rather than client; that’s fine. Organize your files in a way that will be intuitive to you as you retrieve them.
The last thing to remember with electronic file management is to name each file appropriately. A file named “track 1.mp3” will not do you any good. Similarly, a file named “letter.doc” doesn’t tell you anything. Be specific and consistent in naming your files — you should know what it is before you open it.
You are on your own in finding a solution to your paper file dilemma — it might take a couple hundred boxes and an empty garage to fix that. But your electronic files can be organized with little effort. If you are short on storage space, consider upgrading to a larger hard drive. Call Computer Problem Specialists at (928) 468-0000 for help with creating files, installing a new hard drive, or any other computer need. We will be here to walk you through your challenges.
Once your files are where they belong, you will never be burdened with the frustrations of searching for long lost documents. Now where did I put that phone bill ...
Daniel Taft is the senior network administrator and member/owner of Computer Problem Specialists, LLC with a degree in applied computer science. His career spans more than 20 years.