Digital Declutter: Folders

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Digital Declutter Folders

Organize Your Folders

Hi, I’m David Carrington. Let’s take 5 minutes to set up your folders. I used to be an English teacher, and during the first week of each school year, I helped my students set up a folder structure that made them more organized and efficient for that year and for the rest of their lives. Today I’m going to share it with you.

First, what is a Folder? A folder is a container that holds your files. In a folder, you can put documents, photos, pdfs, and even other folders. 

There are 4 topics we’re going to cover:

  1. Nested Folders
  2. Folders That Fit You
  3. Saving Files
  4. Finding Things Faster

1. Nested Folders

Nested Folders or Sub FoldersNested folders are folders within folders. If you have a well-organized folder structure, you’ll be able to find things quickly. I’m going to create mine in Google Drive, because that’s the platform I used with my students, but you can create these on your desktop, dropbox, cloud storage, or wherever you want to get digitally organized. 

2. Folders That Fit You

The best folder structure is one that fits the way you work. For this example, I’m going to share a general set up here that will work for many people. You can adjust it to fit your workflow. Create folders with these names:

  • Personal
  • School
  • Work
  • Finances
  • Hobby1
  • Hobby2

And then create a Document called Table of Contents.

Highest Level Folders

If you’re a student, open the School folder, and create two subfolders:

  • 2019-2020
  • Previous 

School Subfolders 2019-2020 and Previous

Each year, you’ll create a new folder for that grade level, and you’ll put the old one into the Previous folder.

3. Saving Files

Saving files intelligently is important. When you start a document, name it immediately. This helps you think clearly about the file’s purpose, and it also means you won’t end up with lots of files with names like “Untitled 15” scattered everywhere.

Here are some tips for naming files:

1. Easily Scannable (titles should be short and easy to understand)

2. Chronological Order: yyyy-mm-dd_FileName (this is a way to keep files in chronological order)

3. Numbering (this is a way to keep files in a sequence)

1_Who_Am_I_Homework

2_Summer_Reading_Homework

       3_Letter_to_Myself_Homework

4. Versions (this is a way to keep track of different versions of things)

Seating_Chart_V1

       Seating_Chart_V2

       Seating_Chart_V3

5. Use colors if that helps (in Google Drive, you can use color-coding)

Color Coordinated Folders

6. Not every program accepts special characters, so avoid these

~   !   @   #   $   %   ^   &   *   (   )   ;   <   >   ?   ,   [   ]   {   }   ‘    ”  |   . 

7. Use_Underscores     Use-Hyphens     UseCamelCase

The same things apply to creating and naming new folders. DO NOT create a new folder for every little thing. Limit the number you have so they are useful, meaningful containers. And when you add a new folder, add it to your Table of Contents document. This is a map of your folder structure.

Table of Contents Sample

Teachers! If you have your students set up Google Drive folders, make sure you give them clear instructions at the beginning of the year and a naming schema for each new assignment. I had students share their entire GradeX folder with their advisor, and then each individual discipline subfolder with that teacher. Then for each assignment, I had students name files a specific way (for example, 2019_Frankenstein_Essay_LastName) so that I could type 2019_Frankenstein_Essay and access them all efficiently.

4. Find Things Faster

Speaking of accessing things efficiently, that’s the goal of this entire set up. Browsing through your folders and finding things should be intuitive. Having a system helps you be faster and more productive. And remember, you can always use the search bar or your Table of Contents. 

Well done! Now you have an organized folder structure. Feel free to share this information so other people can get organized as well, and check out the next post to continue getting digitally organized.

Next Up…

Now that you know how to organize folders, you can use this method to digitally organize anything. For example, your photos! In the next post, we’ll put that knowledge to use as we organize photos!