Where did I put that file?

In today’s digital world it is easy to lose track of one or more of your files. Especially if they don’t come up as Open Recent files within the program you were using.

Sometimes we forget that our hard drive is really just an electronic file cabinet. It is possible to create virtual file drawers, called folders, on our computers. And each folder can contain sub-folders in addition to individual files.

My laptop currently has 132,330 folders, many of which are sub-folders. In these folders are 738,763 files (individual documents, pictures and audio files). Some of the files in my Family folder go back to 1998. I suspect I have some files on my hard drive that are even older. It’s pretty obvious that if I didn’t create some sort of system along the way, it would be hard to find any file that was more than a few days old.

My folder for my newsletter has twelve sub-folders and 36 individual files. Some I will always leave as they are. Some of the files could probably be added to current subfolders or should lead to the creation of additional sub-folders.

I started by titling the sub-folders by the type of file they contain. My computer automatically sorts them alphabetically amongst the individual files. This worked well for a while, until there were several screens worth of files.

Recently I added some numbers to some of my files and folder names so they would always be at the top of the screen. Following is part of my directory, showing some of the sub-folders I have for my newsletter. The left column contains folders in the main directory. The middle column shows some files and sub-folders of the folder 11b MLS – ezine. The right column shows folders and files from the sub-folder 03 articles.

The sub-folder names that are dates show up in many of my folders. As I work with a project or topic over time, this has become a good way to sort. Just as in my old file cabinets, I can safely use these names over and over because they are in a different drawer or main folder. I just have to be sure when I save the file the first time that it is in the right main folder.

When I started work on my book, I had a main folder that was 11k MLS – book. (All of the 11(letter) MLS file names relate to different aspects of my business). I started with sub-folders labeled draft chapters and bits and pieces. When I was satisfied with the chapters, I added a sub-folder labeled current draft book. And later a sub-folder labeled prev drafts book.

Each time I started a new file, I gave it a name that let me know what was in the file and added a date or version number to the file name. This way if I was in a view of my directory that didn’t show the date the file was created, I could still easily identify the most recent version.

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Just as offices in the past contained metal or wooden file cabinets to organize our important papers and pictures (and some still do), our computers can contain folders to organize our electronic information.

With a little planning, you can set up your folders so it is relatively easy to locate your files in the future – near or distant.

Got questions about creating your own system for organizing your files? Let’s chat. Just give me a call at 843-593-0045 or click here to schedule an appointment.


Happy writing!

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