Studies show that individuals on average can waste up to an hour every day searching for things that they’ve misplaced. This can be car keys, wallets, TV controls, shoes, socks….and this is even before arriving in the office!
Today we are going to concentrate on 3 simple tips when organising files on your computer.
Think through a structure that works for you and stick to it. For example, have a main folder called Clients and this is where all your client information goes. In this folder create subfolders for each client. (There shouldn’t be any rogue documents in the main client folder – they should all be allocated to the appropriate client subfolder!)
If you are doing similar work for each of your clients it is helpful to have the same folder structure for each client. So create a folder called “Template” and have your commonly used subfolders (like correspondence, proposals, meeting notes, etc, whatever common themes work for you). Each time you have a new client you can copy and paste the “Template” folder and rename it with the new client. This way you create the same process for each client – and each time you have a new client you will automatically know where you are going to file any documents.
Try to call your file names in a consistent way throughout your whole filing process, eg “Letter – Client Name – topic – date” or “Proposal – Client Name – topic – date”.
If you use content from another document (for example a proposal you have written for another client) remember to change the file name so it matches the current client and content. It is useful to get into the habit of changing the file name as soon as you open the document otherwise it is easy to forget and save over the original document which will then have an incorrect title.
If there are several versions of a document being circulated by team members it is important to update and number each version and make sure the final version is clearly labelled in the folder, especially if you are working with shared folders like Dropbox.
Documents in e-mail attachments and e-mail titles
When you receive an e-mail with a document attached, file it immediately in the appropriate folder on your computer. This way, when you work on it you will go to the appropriate file location and not have to hunt through your e-mail inbox!
When you are filing the document on your system think about the file name: has it been sent to you with the correct file name? Do you need to save it under a different name on your computer to match your document filing names?
Do not save it to your desktop to file later! File it in the appropriate place immediately!
When e-mailing documents make sure your e-mail titles are the same as your content! It is easy when you are in e-mail correspondence for the topics to change if you are working on several projects. Try and keep each project in a separate e-mail or at least change the title if the content of the e-mail has moved onto a new project.
Also think of consistent e-mail titles that work for you as this will help if you have to search for an e-mail, eg if you are sending out T&Cs call the e-mail “T&Cs – Client Name – Subject – Date”.
So in summary…
File all documents in the appropriate folders – don’t dump them on your desktop!
Name each file with the appropriate document name
Make sure the titles of your e-mails match the content of the e-mail!