How to Manage and Organise your Digital Files

It’s so easy to download digital files. You have a bunch of them. PDFs, fonts, recordings… They’re all sitting in your downloads folder. In a mess. You don’t really look at them, or learn anything from them really. Because they’re just sitting there. In a mess.

And worse still, you can’t find ANYTHING on this dang folder. What name did you name that file? Where is it really? HOW DO I FIND ANYTHING HERE?

You’re not alone. Digital files get crazy really quickly. But you already know what you need… Systems!

Putting a system in place can be a pain in the butt, but once that’s up and running, you get peace of mind foreverrrrrrr (not really, but seriously, once you’re done it’s like you’re sitting by the beach with your shades and a summery drink).

But this system doesn’t take much more than 20 minutes - though it does depend on how many files you have dumped in the “main folder of chaos” now.

organisedigitalfiles.png

Google Drive vs Dropbox vs other?

First, let’s determine where you’re saving things on. If you’re not on any cloud storage system yet, get on it! Because then you’ll only need to organise ONCE but get managed systems on both your cloud and your computer. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?

I’m not mentioning Amazon Web Services simply because I prefer cloud services that also offer an archiving function - that allows me double protection should I lose my files in the cloud or on my computer.

I was on Dropbox for ages before I switched to Google Drive, and frankly, there was nothing quite wrong with it. I loved Dropbox and the ease of it all, but the costs were quickly mounting up. I paid $9.99 for the basic plan, then an extra $4.99 for an extended archiving function (so I can reverse deleted files if necessary), and then if I wanted to sync to my computer without taking up space I had to top up again for that functionality.

So me switching to Google Drive was really an issue of cost, I didn’t love the Google Drive look, but I was already on GSuite and was paying $5 a month for my email. A quick researched showed that GSuite Business allowed archiving and also had a new app called Drive File Stream, which allowed me to see my files on my computer without taking up hard disk space!

That was only $10 a month for everything. SOLD.

As computers are moving to flash storage nowadays, storage is getting pricier. So I like to keep my computer as “empty” as possible, while still backing up everything.

Once you’ve decided what works best for you, it’s time to get your systems set up!

If you want to see a walkthrough of my entire Google Drive, sign up below for the video:

Foundation Files

I like to start with what I call foundation files. These are the folders that will work for anybody. So you can just take these and implement right now.

My highest level foundation files are:

  • Personal (I file this under Kara-Anne)

  • Work (I file this under The Petite Co.)

  • To Sort

Easy, right? Then in each of these foundation files, I have more of them.

In Personal, I have:

  • Books

  • Faith

  • Notes and Documents

  • Fitness

  • Photos

  • Travel

Think about the main categories of your life. Most people will have similar folders as I do, especially the Photos and Notes and Documents ones. I file important documents, scanned and all, into the Notes and Documents folder. You can create further sub-folders if you need to, or name it “Tax Documents” or “Financial Documents” if that is more pertinent.

personalfolder.png

Remember, the crux is to always name it the most basic name possible. Don’t try to create some fancy, creative, or nice-sounding name. Always use terms you can always search for quickly.

In Work, I have:

  • Admin Documents

  • Business (Internal stuff)

  • Client Work

  • Learning

  • Resources

BusinessFolder.png

These should work for pretty much any kind of business, maybe tweaking the “Client Work” to “Products” if you are a product-based business.

At this point, you are pretty much set. I go through my “To Sort” folder every week and dump them into each general file, if I’m lazy. Just open two separate windows and drag them, easy peasy. If you have a LOT, you can first start with the files you want to delete, then work on sorting them.

If you want to see a walkthrough of my entire Google Drive, sign up below for the video!

Personalising the sub-folders

To really get those foundation files sorted (though those will have provided you with a MUCH neater space already), this is where the personalisation comes in. We all section things differently in our heads, so I don’t want to limit you with using just my system. This is just for reference.

In each foundation file, I have sub-folders that help me further divide down the crazy amount of files. This will ensure I always find what I need, quickly. Though having a ton of sub-folders can be a pain (you have to click into a folder of a folder of a folder), keep in mind that you will save back the time just by always knowing where the things are! But as a quick rule of thumb, I don’t usually create more than 3 layers of sub-folders if I can help it.

This is an example of the sub-folders in my Personal > Notes and Documents folder, there are no more sub-folders inside these:

PersonalSubFolders.png

In my Work folders, there tends to be more layers of sub-folders. For example, I classify the information inside most folders by year. So for Admin Documents, there will be a sub-folder layer of 2018, and then Archived. I usually move all previous years to Archives.

In my Business (internal) folder, there is a further sub-folder after the years. Inside 2018, for example, I will have folders like these:

InternalOpsFolder.png

In my Learning Folder, I classify according to the people or course the resource is from. If I don’t have a significant number of resources from one same source, I will just file it under Miscellaneous. You can also try filing according to category (like Marketing etc.).

Lastly, in my Resources Folder, I classify according to type:

ResourcesFolder.png

Come up with a system that works for you and your brain - whether that’s by category or type, or by year, or even months. Start with more general sub-folders, then detail them further if you find that the folders still get messy or you can’t find something.

If you want to go a step further, you can even colour code the folders according to your planner or your email labels. But that’s another crazy organisation ninja post of its own.

If you want to see a walkthrough of my entire Google Drive, sign up below for the video!


Now your turn:

Are you a messy filer or a type A one? How do you organise your files? Let me know how this goes!