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If you’re struggling with document organization, you’re at the right place. In this piece, we will discuss the 6 best tips that help you organize your documents better. No fancy tools or paid subscriptions are required. In most cases, basic changes in habit and storage solves the problem for you.

Even if you don’t exactly have a problem now, following these tips will help you avoid the occurrence of these problems in the near future. Let’s get started then. 

Developing Categorization Strategies

The best way to take control of your documents is by categorizing them right. This is simply the act of putting them in the right groups. 

Now, there are various ways you can achieve this. 

  • Alphabetic by client or project name: The simplest option is to use the project or client’s initials for categorization. This ensures you can find the project even using the search feature on your system instead of having to manually sift through the files. 
  • By Date: Sorting by date helps you easily find projects if you remember the approximate time of the project. The added benefit is the time factor. You’ll always know which projects are older and may require more quick attention than the more recent ones. An example I can provide is “Overdue salaries_May_editors”.
  • By File Type: This is primarily beneficial for you if you’ve projects dealing with individual file types.  You can store your photos together while documents somewhere else and so on. Do note that if the project involves multiple file-types, it’s still better to store all the files from a single project together using any other strategy here instead of simply separating them based on file-type. 
  • Third-party tools: Many free tools such as SodaPDF allow you to highlight, comment, add bookmarks and even convert file types in seconds. This lets you browse around with ease and mark important areas of a file for future references. 

File Naming Conventions

No matter how you categorize your files, you can only find them if you’ve named them right. Confusing, contradicting or vague naming conventions take away any benefits your categorization may have added to your files. 

Here are a few tips to take your file-name game (pun intended) to the next level: 

  • Be Descriptive: The more descriptive your file names are, the better. Even the descriptions should be short and precise. 
  • Use Dates: When naming your files, include dates if possible. You needn’t use the full date, even a month or week reference works. 
  • Use abbreviations (with caution): If the project name is long, abbreviations do come in handy. Be sure to use easily identifiable abbreviations.

Utilizing Folders and Subfolders

The ability to create folders and sub folders by itself is a god-send when it comes to document organisation. Here are a few tips that will help you do this even better: 

  • Maintain hierarchy: Your folder should start with the broadest possible term, e.g. “US clients”. Then, the sub folders can start trimming down and pinpointing more specifics. E.g. US Clients > Graphic design > May deadline and so on. 
  • Mix other strategies with folders: Your folders and subfolders should utilise most of the strategies we’ve discussed so far. This means better naming, categorization and everything else. This makes searching for them easier. 

Implementing Tags and Metadata

Tags are one of the least used but most effective ways of grouping files together. No special tools or skills required, Windows and even most cloud storage platforms offer the feature.

  • Create a universal standard: If everyone creates their own tags, it would be counterproductive. Hence, establish a set of tags that everyone knows and will use. You can use tags like “ongoing”, “overdue”, “revisions” or anything else depending on what you’re working with.
  • Multiple tags: A single file can have more than one tag. E.g. a folder containing “june” and “overdue” is better than just a “june” or “overdue” tag, wouldn’t you agree?
  • Descriptive tags: The tag should instantly tell the user what the file/folder is about. This also helps when someone searches for the files. If someone needs “overdue” files, “overdue” is literally the first word that they’d think of and hopefully search for. 

Declutter

Organizing files is all about being able to find the target files faster. One of the best ways to ensure that is make the pile smaller. 

I’m confident you’ve files you don’t need anymore. These may be older versions of your work, completed projects or just wrong outputs. 

If they’re files you must keep just for backups, I’d recommend using a cloud backup solution. This would keep your everyday space clean and easy to look through. 

Utilise cloud storage 

No, this has nothing to do with “saving space”. Using cloud storage has its own benefits as far as document organizing goes.

For starters, everything you upload almost instantly gets categorized by “date” and “file type” automatically.  You can always find files uploaded between date X and Y instantly or files of a specific type. 

These cloud providers often store multiple versions of the same file within the primary file. This helps you have access to older versions of your files without having to actually store independent older versions.

Then, many cloud providers often offer selective-access. This lets you grant access to specific files only to specific individuals. You can also assign files, folders and due dates to your colleagues. All this keeps things compartmentalized and easier to access. 

Conclusion- Tips for Dominating Document Organization

That’s it folks. I hope your file organization skills got at least a tad bit better in the last few minutes. Of course, you can do a few more things but I’m confident following even a few of these tips should make things better for you. 

If you ask me for one, absolute best document organization tip, I’d say start using alphabetic categorization. The second best tip would be to start using a cloud backup solution. Go on then, get that mess cleaned eh?  



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