How to Organize Digital Files

organize digital files


Our digital life includes documents, spreadsheets, PDF docs, and photos. Add in items that are saved in the cloud. You may be saving files to your desktop or keep files attached in your email.  All of a sudden we are digitally disorganized! Simple, electronic organization is a must when it comes to keeping our digital files organized.


Start with the big picture

Digital organizing is just like physical organizing.  Think about the big categories of digital files to organize.  The big category of files should reside on your PC, Macbook or cloud based filing system. Why? Because like with all organizing, consolidating is important.  You want one spot to look for all these files.


Backing up is a critical safety factor.   You can use your cloud based filing system with a strong password, an external hard drive, or a specific back up system like Carbonite.  Whichever you choose, be sure you are backing up regularly.


Organize digital files with broad categories

Digital and paper file systems have a lot in common. Starting with broad categories makes it easy to file and easy to know where to find information.

Home digital files include:

  • House and Auto
  • Financial
  • Personal
  • Work
  • Photos
  • Music

Office digital files include:

  • Clients
  • Resources
  • Vendors
  • Financials 20XX
  • Expenses

Think about what applies to your business as a big category.  You can also sort by year if that’s easier.  Choose categories that make sense to you and can be easily remembered. If not, you can also print your folder and file list for reference.


computer organizing


Create files within the folder

Create a file within the folder for more specific categories.  In your Home folder, it might be Jeep and Lexus are the file names. In the Financial folder, you can create files for Retirement Merrill Lynch, Utilities 20XX, or Banking Compass.  For your photos, you can create files by event like birthday, travel or year.

Organize digital files by consolidating

  • If you save to your desktop, you can copy/cut and paste into your new document folder you created.
  • If documents are in your email, open and save as to the new file.
  • If you are saving a photo, cut and paste into the new file.


Scanning to your files

  • It’s easiest to create the folder before you scan.  Then simply choose PDF and scan to the folder you need.
  • Remember, not EVERYTHING is scan worthy.
  • You don’t have to scan in previous documents. Start by going forward with scanning new documents and catch up later.

organize electronic files

Remember, keeping it simple makes it easier to file anything!


More tech organizing here!

7 replies
  1. Ellen Delap
    Ellen Delap says:

    It is harder with digital files. It takes having a strategy first, then putting it into practice. I often give my clients a list of the files too in order to make these visual.

  2. Seana Turner
    Seana Turner says:

    Yes, I love the point about starting with where you are and going forward. So many times people try and go back to the “beginning” – with a variety of cluttered objects – and then they get discouraged and quit.

  3. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    It’s much easier to move forward first. It helps you define what you need and access it quickly. It’s a few minutes well spent in organizing!

  4. Kathy Vines
    Kathy Vines says:

    When I’ve worked with clients on this, the number one rule we use is to keep it as simple as possible… there isn’t a benefit to having a structure being overly detailed. When the structure is simple, it’s easier to file things, find things, and purge things. It’s important to be consistent, but not overly complicated! Thanks — I’ll be sharing this in my Organizing Challenge group in a few weeks, since it’s right on target with one of the assignments!

  5. Sabrina Quairoli
    Sabrina Quairoli says:

    I agree, simplicity is best. From my experience, if there are more than one person using the folders and files, it’s best to determine a system everyone can understand and use before implementing any system. Thanks for sharing, Ellen.

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