Organize your files, folders & emails

Are you one of those people who save all your files to the root directory of your “My Documents” folder, or keeps all of your emails in your inbox?  If so, you know how hard it is to find anything that you might be looking for at a later date, and here are some tips to better organize your files, folders and emails.

I highly recommend storing all your data under your “My Documents” folder, so that it makes it much easier to back up all your data, because then all you would have to do is point your backup software to back up everything in your “My Documents” folder, and then you would know that all your data is getting backed up.  The problem occurs when you keep storing all your data in the root of your “My Documents” folder, and not storing it in a logically named folder structure, and the next thing you know, you have thousands of files in the root of your “My Documents” folder, and you don’t have any clue why you saved all those files, or what each file is for.

If you have a lot of documents that you created and/or saved for your golf league, for example, create a new folder named “Golf League”, under your “My Documents” folder, and then save all your golf league documents in that new “Golf League” folder.  If you play on several different golf leagues, then you might want to create a new high level folder called “Golf Leagues”, which would be created under your “My Documents” folder, and then create a new sub-folder under “Golf Leagues” for each golf league that you belong to.  If you have been playing on a particular golf league for many years, you should put the year of the golf league in the golf league name, such as “Burning Tree 2012”.  That way it makes it much easier to find any documents for your Burning Tree golf league for 2012, because now they are organized in the “Burning Tree 2012” sub-folder, which is now under the “Golf Leagues” folder.

You can use this same logical naming convention for organizing your email inbox.  Under your inbox create a new high level folder named “Saved”, and then create new sub-folders under the new “Saved” folder for anything that you would like to save, such as for correspondence for your Burning Tree golf league.  If your plan on responding to a particular email, but don’t have the time to respond right now, you could create a new sub-folder under your inbox called “To Do” or something along those lines, and then when you have time to respond, you will know exactly where that email is saved, without having to look though the new 250 emails you just got, which most end up being SPAM anyways.  It is totally up to you how you name these new folders, but I would highly suggest that you use a logical naming convention when naming the new folders, so that in a couple of years from now, when you go back through your saved folder structure, you know exactly what those emails or those documents are for, and why you saved them.

Many times when I am working on moving data from a client’s old computer, to their new computer, I help them get their documents and emails organized, so that they can retrieve those documents and those emails, easily if they ever need them someday.  You should be naming your file names the same way, using a logical naming convention, so that you know exactly what those files are for, should you ever need them someday, or should you ever decide to finally get around to cleaning out some of your older unneeded files, you will know exactly why you saved those files at the time that you saved them, and what is inside them, without having to open up each file, or each email.

Most of us all have saved pictures, and you should also be following these same directions for creating logically named folders, but with pictures, you should also be renaming those pictures with a logical name, rather than using the camera’s default file naming convention, which usually has a date and time stamp in the file name, but doesn’t describe what that picture is of, and two years from now that obscure file name that the camera automatically created, will mean absolutely nothing to you.  For example, rename the first file from your friend Nancy’s birthday party last year to “Nancy’s Birthday Party 1” and then increment the file name of each of Nancy’s birthday party picture by one, so that the second picture is called “Nancy’s Birthday Party 2”, and the last file name in that series of pictures is called “Nancy’s Birthday Party 15”, and store all Nancy’s birthday party pictures under your “My Pictures” folder, in a new folder called “Nancy’s Birthday Party 2011”.  This is just an example of using a logical naming convention, but I think you get the point.  Most importantly, remember this is your data, so go ahead and name it anyway that you want, but if you expect to ever be able to recall what those files, folders and emails were created and/or saved for, give them logical names, and store them is a logically named folder structure, to help you be better organized.

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