The Most Effective Way to Organize Your Files and Folders

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Before I started working as an Art Director at a big advertising company, I had NO IDEA there was a rhyme and rhythm to keeping digital files organized.

My computer desktop, and external hard drive looked like a mess - filled with files that were not labeled or stored properly.

Eventually my desktop would fill to the max, and I’d end up dumping every file into a folder called ‘Clean Up’ to lessen the anxiety.

It helped clear my desktop for the moment, but led to hours of searching whenever I needed to find a specific file. Then, if I couldn't find what I was looking for, I'd find myself spending more time recreating the file from scratch.

This was NOT acceptable. In no way was this productive. 

It was costing me TIME + MONEY by staying unorganized, until I learned the easy way.

When working within a large creative time, with many moving parts, there was no room for wasting time or money.  Our servers were always maxing out, so we needed a bullet proof way to keep a handle on every file.

We needed a way to name and organize documents so that all members of our team could find and access them effortlessly, no matter what computer they were working on.

Once I learned the method I’m about to teach you, my life became SO MUCH EASIER.

I stopped spending hours searching for specific files, because I always knew exactly where they were, and which to open.

Before I get into this training, I want to make sure to say that this only works if you do. You can’t get lazy, and you have to commit to this system in order to start making your life easier.

If you don’t follow this method each time you add a new file to your computer, you’ll never achieve an organized file system.

If you are ready to get yourself into a committed relationship with your folder and file labeling system, watch this video or keep reading. 

HOW TO LABEL + ORGANIZE YOUR DOCUMENTS TO ALWAYS FIND THEM EFFORTLESSLY...

Step 1: Folder Labeling System

First start by creating your Base Folder where everything on your computer will be stored.

Where do you store your files?

I have an external hard-drive that I always work from. I use an external drive because I’m usually working on HUGE photo, movie, or graphic design files that would eat up all my memory if I saved my files to my desktop.

Some of you may not be working on big files regularly, and can get away with using your desktop. Either way - create a base folder to get started, and label it whatever you want. I'd suggest "Your Name - All."

Example: "Kristen - All" 

Below, you'll see mine is labeled "LaCie Biggest" which is the name of my external hard drive. If you use an external, follow below similarly. If you're storing directly to your computer, create a folder now for this.

CREATE BUSINESS CATEGORIES

Then - within this folder create subfolders like below. I categorize mine as my 3 business folders and a personal folder. I do this because I know that all future files will fall into one of these 4 categories.

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LABELING SUB-FOLDERS

Now, inside each of the above folders, create more subfolders that categorize the different subjects that belong within the folder before it, like so.

You'll notice the different categories that fall under my "It's Kriativ" content. All current and future files would belong within these. If you ever need to add more categories, you can do so easily.

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GET SPECIFIC

Keep creating new folders within the above folders, labeled more specifically as you get deeper. Break down subjects as specifically as you can, like below. 

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This system may sound and look a little “extra” but I PROMISE you, this is the first step to remembering where your files live, and how to find them very fast.

 

Step 2: File Labeling System

Developing a proper file labeling system is detrimental if you want to find your files FAST.

You NEED to stay committed to this.

When you label files correctly, you'll know exactly how to search for them based on the type of job and category that the file belongs to.

For example, since I ALWAYS label my files according to business, then category, then topic, then version and then round, I know exactly what file I need to be working on.

I can search my entire computer and find what I need effortlessly.

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Here’s how your file labeling is going to go. 

FILE LABEL STRUCTURE:
BaseFolder_Category_Topic_Version_Round.jpg

Here's an example:

Let’s say your document is a Facebook Timeline art file for the month of January. I'd label it: 

Example: ItsKriativ_SocialMedia_FacebookPost_01_a.jpg

Your label for the month of Febuary, would be ItsKriativ_SocialMedia_FacebookPost_02_a.jpg. And December would be ItsKriativ_SocialMedia_FacebookPost_03_a.jpg

Now lets say you want to save an Instagram file for the month of January. I would label that one: ItsKriativ_SocialMedia_InstagramPost_01_a.jpg

If I wanted to save two rounds of this same file, maybe I had text on one image and the same image without text in another file. They would look like this.

With Text: ItsKriativ_SocialMedia_FacebookPost_02_a.jpg
Without Text: ItsKriativ_SocialMedia_FacebookPost_02_b.jpg

Same file, slightly modified. 

This naming method allows you to recognize the most recent file you’ve worked on, just by looking at the number of rounds. This means NO having to open files to determine if it's the right one.

Quick, simple, effortless. 

TIP 1:
You never want to use periods, spaces, or other weird characters to separate your words because they can corrupt your files and make them inoperable. Only use underscores or dash marks.

TIP 2:
Also, to rename a file, click on the file, and then click again over the name to relabel. You can also do this by clicking on the file, going to file > rename.

DID YOU KNOW?
When you upload images to the internet, like onto your website or blog - the name of your file gets indexed and used as SEO in google.

Having strong SEO means more traffic to your site. Labeling your files correctly takes care of this for you. You'll be using your name and subjects as keyword indicators, to get noticed online when people are searching similar keywords, or looking for your work.  

Organizing your files and staying committed to keeping them organized can change your life. It changed mine.

You'll find files effortlessly, save LOADS of time, and improve traffic to your content.


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