Files can accumulate really quickly. With good file management, finding your documents can be fast and easy. Good file management is a skill that takes time to develop, but is definitely attainable and well worth the effort.
Here are some best practices and skills to get you started. Begin by dedicating yourself to one of these habits and, when you’ve mastered it, start working on the next positive habit:
Subfolders are a huge benefit when trying to keep things organized. Within your main folder, you should have multiple categories of folders. And within those categories of folders, there should be more specific categories of folders. For example: Documents > Syllabi > Religion > 2015. With this system, you can see your main folder “Documents” contains a subfolder for your syllabi you’ve created. Within this folder you can have multiple folders for each academic area you teach. Inside these folders, you can easily add years and/or semesters. This is much easier to manage than having one “Document” folder with thousands of random files ranging from handouts, to syllabi, to working documents.
A hierarchical system is great, but if your files have random, cryptic names, it’s not going to do much good.Instead, establish a rule for naming each type of file so you can quickly tell what it contains. Stanford has a great guideline for coming up with naming conventions. Incorporating elements such as project title, date, version, and some sort of unique identifier makes retrieval a lot easier.
Although it’s always helpful, it may not be feasible to properly file every little file immediately as it is created. To stay organized, make a habit of periodically sweeping problem spots, like your Desktop and Downloads folders. While you’re at it, go ahead and empty your trash. Like all housekeeping, it’s a negligible time commitment if you do it regularly; let it build up and it can be overwhelming. This is a good activity for a lazy afternoon when you’re not quite feeling up to the next big task on your to do list.
Design your organizational system around the various identities and roles in your life, and keep that content separate. Keep your school work separate from your professional work, and keep your personal content separate from everything. That can mean using separate emails, separate storage, and separate devices where applicable.
Luther employees are expected to keep their personal and work content separate, only using Luther workstations, services, and systems for Luther-related work.
Cloud storage is cheaper and permits easier file recovery and data sharing. Cloud services allow you to access data from your different devices. In addition, Google drive offers Shared Drives with which teams or departments can have drives for a particular project. Cloud services offer desktop clients that make accessing data on the cloud similar to accessing a network drive on your desktop. All you need is an internet connection, and you will be ready to rip the benefits of cloud computing.
You have the option to right click on your file, go into its properties, and add additional information under the “Details” tab. By adding a title, subject, tag, category, or author, you’re able to quickly search for that specific word or phrase within a particular folder. This is extremely useful if your folders contain hundreds (or even thousands) of files.
Archiving helps save space because compressed files are smaller than the original files. This makes sharing files over the internet quicker and easier. Archived files are easy to back-up because they take less storage space, making it easy to create multiple back-ups.
Some kinds of files need special treatment that involves other devices. For example, some things are so important that you should have multiple copies. These are good candidates for backup onto external drives, network shares, cloud storage, or DVD/CDs. If you’re only backing up documents and photos, consider a cloud storage option like Google Drive, or if you’re a Luther employee, you can also use the Adm1 or Acad1 network shares for small files. Your Norse Apps account has unlimited Google Drive storage and can even store local copies of frequently documents using File Stream (for employees) or Back-up and Sync (for students).
For whole system backups, use an external drive and a backup solution like the Windows Backup feature or Apple’s Time Capsule feature. If you’re a Luther employee, it’s important to know that the network shares are backed up nightly, but that your workstation isn’t.