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9 best ways to organize your files and documents

If you have ever spent extended periods sifting through images, videos, or documents searching for one particular piece of content, then it is time for you to organize your files.

When you have disorganized files, relying on the "search" or "find" function to find a particular piece of content within your devices could take an excessive amount of time. With an organized and consistent naming structure, your content search process becomes quick and straightforward as you can locate the exact file you seek. 

When it is time to start your digital organization, pick a system you can stick with. Think about your style and what works best for your content. Typically, these systems are a personal choice, and the best way to organize files for you may differ from your partner or co-workers. For example, you could preserve and organize your family photos and relevant documents within the personal home assistant Rosy, and organize all of your work-related and financial documents within your primary home computer. 

No matter what system or file organization ideas you choose - simplifying your digital life is not impossible. In fact, with our 9 file organization ideas, you can efficiently organize  your files, no matter how daunting the process may seem.

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Identify your devices

Before you begin, consider the type of devices you use to store your files. While so much of our daily lives have transitioned into mobile devices and cloud-based computing, the traditional desktop computer is still very much a part of many of our lives. In fact, as of February 2019, over 74% of all Americans owned a desktop or laptop computer at home, and those numbers don't include the computers used in the workplace.

When you begin to clean up your files and documents, try to stick to the same organization template across all devices. For example, the naming convention in your cloud-based storage should be the same as that on your at-home computer. While your naming convention may differ at your workplace, try to keep all of your at-home and personal documents the same across the board. You will become more tidy and efficient, but the next time someone asks you for a particular document, you will be able to easily access that specific piece of content through the same search via a desktop computer or your cloud-based computing.

Say good-bye to duplicates

Cut away the clutter and remove duplicate content. When you begin going through your documents, you may find multiple copies of the same material or hundreds of identical pictures. When you start deleting duplicates, you will be shocked at how much of your computer's memory is freed up without the excess content bogging it down. However, the process of deleting duplicates can be rather time-consuming. If the manual method is too overwhelming, many third-party applications can find and remove duplicate content on your phone, home computer, and cloud-based applications.

Delete your downloads

Don't let any extra files sit in your downloads folder. This process goes hand-in-hand with saying goodbye to duplicates. Open your downloads folder, view the documents by file type, and then go through each category. Either file the important documents from your downloads folder with the rest of your content or delete them. This saves space on your drive, but it will also make room for any additional future downloads. Think of your download folder as a temporary storage location. Once you download a file, name it, and move it out to where it will live on your new hierarchy.

Create a strategic file hierarchy

Once you have removed all your duplicate files and given yourself a clean slate, it's time for you to pick the best way to organize your files. Typically there are three main file structures to choose from:

File-based

File-based system groups everything into folders based on the type of file it is. These do not need to be strictly computer files such as JPG or DOC, but you can pick folders with names that resonate with their topics such as Family or Photos. Within each of those main folders, you can put any kind of files and organize them however you please. Examples include Investments, Family Documents, etc.  

Date-based

Date-based hierarchy is usually best when you have a few tasks with similar files. For example, monthly financials or invoicing that is repetitive works well with date-based files. To set this structure up, you can have all your data filed under each month, with subfolders for weeks. Examples include May 2019, 2020 Fourth Quarter, 2016 Financials, etc. 

Project/Client-based

A client-based structure is a simple hierarchy to stick with for work-related content. Typically each client gets a dedicated folder, and all projects and relevant files exist within that folder. Examples include Client A, Client B, Client C, etc. 

Choose a hierarchy that makes sense for your data and your team's data (if you are organizing company-wide), and make sure it remains consistent across the board. 

Use a proper naming structure

The best way to organize files for your personal computer may differ from your company’s naming conventions. The people who have access to the files may determine how the naming structure is set up. When creating a file name, consider some of the following naming structures when you begin organizing: 

 

- Project name
- Owner name/initials
- Date or range 
- The type of data
- The version number of file
- Underscores: file_name.xxx
- Dashes: filename .xxx
- No separation of name: filename .xxx

After you create and implement a proper file naming structure, it's best to create a "how-to" guide and share the naming conventions with your team or to keep for personal use. This document is an excellent refresher on how you organize your files, but it will help anyone who may need to access these files to know how to search and create new files when it is time.

Create smaller subfolders

No matter which main file system  or naming conventions you choose, there should be nested smaller subfolders within. While you don't necessarily need to go crazy with color coordinating and fancy naming conventions for everything, you can use a combination of nested subfolders within your main hierarchy. For example, you can have a client-based hierarchy and use a year structure as nested folders within. Such As: "Client X>2019", or "Family>2020 Photos" Choose the best way to organize files to fit within the structure of your work. 

Digitize important files

Digitization is scanning any of your physical files or photos and turning them into electronic images or PDFs. After you finish this process of digitizing your files, you can easily organize the new uploads within your newly constructed computer folder system. While there is still a need for the existence of hard copy documents such as social security cards, birth certificates, titles, etc., digitizing your items is a great way to save space, safely back items up on your hard drive or server and seamlessly implement them within your new organized file process and naming convention. 

You may also choose to upload your digital files into Rosy. Using its high-speed scanner, Rosy not only saves and organizes your photos and important documents within it's private and safe database but it also automatically detects the type of document it is and assists with naming and storage. 

Back-up your files

Now that you have everything beautiful and organized take the time to backup your data. While you may not want to think about it, hard drives do fail, laptops can be lost, and your data could accidentally be deleted. For peace of mind that your data is completely backed up, consider one of the below options to secure your data in case anything catastrophic happens:


  • - sync your data with another computer,
  • - purchase and update an external hard drive,
  • - upload and purchase additional storage space on a cloud computing device,
  • - use Rosy, your smart home digital assistant, to organize, hold, and secure all images, documents, and personal data in a safe and secure location that only you can access.
  • Ongoing maintenance 

    Continuous file management is the key to ongoing success. It is best practice to sort out all of your files once a week. Try to look through your files and data at the beginning or the end of the week to make sure they are in the right place, correctly named, and in order. Try to tidy up any unnecessary files and delete any redundancies before anything becomes too unruly. If weekly is too much for you, brainstorm some other ideas. Perhaps schedule a quarterly task to go through your digital files and make sure everything is updated and in its place. This process will help keep any of the chaos from creeping back into your file system and ensure that everything is still set up how you need it. 

    If you’d like to learn more about how Rosy can help you keep your digital files organized and streamlined, be sure to join our waitlist for the Rosy app launching soon.