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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!

Small Business Computer Clean Up

small business computer

Our small businesses require 24/7 computer access.  There’s nothing more troubling than computer challenges.  Check out these tips in collaboration with Lisa Margetis. She is sharing about keeping your computer cleaned up and ready at all times.

 

What’s the best way to get started “cleaning up your computer” for a small business?

The best way to start getting business files organized is to create and implement a style of folder organization that is easy-to-follow for both you and your employees. If you can create an accompanying training guide as well, this will be very helpful in keeping all of your organization’s files consistent across the company. It’s also important to enable network sharing settings for employees who may need to access files that don’t live on their hard drive. However, an alternative option would be to use a collaborative document system that lives in the cloud (such as Google Drive) so that all employees can access any documents at any time from anywhere. Google Drive is great because it also allows you to share documents with individuals both inside and outside of your organization at your discretion.

What steps do you take to organize information on your computer?

Personally, I use an organization system that organizes by project I am working on. For example, when creating this calendar, I have my files organized with the prefix CCC (for Clean Computer Calendar) followed by a bar symbol (|) and then whatever the document is about. Some example file names are: ‘CCC | Calendar Draft’, ‘CCC | Calendar Copy FINAL’, ‘CCC | Finished JPG’, etc. This way, all items from a given project are grouped together which makes it easier to find items in the long run. I often create a folder for a given project once it is complete so that my ‘Documents’ folder only contains items that I am currently working on. Likely in a few months’ time I will create a folder labeled “Clean Computer Calendar” and put all of my items labeled with ‘CCC’ into it. My folder system words so that it would be located in Documents>Projects>Clean Computer Calendar. I try to use a system that any coworker could understand if they were looking for something on my computer.

 

What’s one thing that all small business owners should do to maintain security on their computer?

The best way to maintain security is to do two things.
• Make sure to always be updating your system, as well as any antivirus or firewall software you have installed. Although it can be tedious and annoying when an alert pops up that your computer needs updating, it is extremely important to take the time to install these updates, as they are often being released to help combat some sort of security feature that will help protect your system.
• Make sure to use unique passwords and update them regularly. Personally, I try to rotate my passwords every two months. Again, this probably seems tedious and annoying, but it helps safeguard your system. It’s important to note that these passwords shouldn’t just change incrementally (ex: ilovemydog1, ilovemydog2, ilovemydog3, etc.) and instead are completely different each time they are changed (ex: ilovemydog1, catsrule23, mynameislisa14, etc). If you can avoid using dictionary words, that’s even better, as the more difficult you make your password, the less likely it is that a robot could crack the code.

What suggestions do you have for backing up computers for small business?

It is so important in today’s technology age to be backing up all the time and in different locations. For small businesses, I would definitely recommend backing up to a dedicated cloud server for your business, and doing so in a location that isn’t close to where you are headquartered. This is called co-location, which is the practice of backing up your data in multiple locations. This way, if a disaster happens (fire, flood, etc.) at your headquarters, your data is safely housed somewhere else. It also helps with business downtime, so that if your hosting company is affected you can still access files and your site can still run off of its backup servers located elsewhere.

Use this month calendar to get the job done.

 

Clean_Computer_Cal

Great tips from Lisa!