One of the activities that impact everyone that uses a computer or cloud storage is searching for files. We look for documents needed to do our work multiple times per day, and if those files are hard to find, it drags down productivity. A few extra minutes here and there when trying to find files on a hard drive or online storage can really add up. 

It is estimated that 19.8% of the workweek (or one full working day each week) is wasted searching for information. We’ve all experienced unsuccessfully trying to find a file that we knew was on our hard drive somewhere, trying one keyword after another. Inefficient file naming and storage can make it much harder to locate files than it needs to be. Improve your personal and office productivity by adapting these tips to keep your files better organized.

Use a Universal Naming Hierarchy for Folders

With shared file storage it becomes harder to find files because people might use different folder structures. Not having a consistent hierarchy hurts everyone and makes it difficult for anyone new coming onboard to find documents they may need. Put a consistent naming hierarchy in place for your cloud storage that everyone must use. It should dictate the top level and second level folder structure, such as Department > Document type. This will make locating files easier for everyone, no matter who saved the file originally.

Use Descriptive File Names

 Using dates for file names can make them difficult to search. When you name a file, think about the keywords you will use to find that file later. You want file names to be descriptive enough of the contents that someone doesn’t need to open the file to see what it’s about.

Color Code File Folders

A great trick to stay organized and reduce file search time is to color-code folders. You can use one color for marketing files, another for HR files, etc. Colors allow someone to quickly identify the right folder for a document without even needing to read the name. Many programs allow you to do this. Here’s an example below from Google Drive.

Don’t Nest Documents Too Deep Into Folders

When people have to click through to multiple folders to get to a document, it makes a file search take more time. You could end up clicking through six folders just to find out that you went down the wrong path and have to start again with another nest of folders. Keeping your file structure as flat as possible will make documents easier to find. It’s a good idea to keep it to no more than 3 folders deep.

Keep Folders Under Control With a Minimum Document Requirement

Another bad habit that can make it harder to keep file storage organized is using too many folders. If you have folders with just one or two files in them, that’s going to make it harder for you to find all your files. Put a minimum document requirement on creating new folders of about 10 files needed. If someone has less than 10 similar files to save together, they should find the best existing folder in which to place those documents. 

Save to the Right Folder (Not to Downloads or Your Desktop)

The files on your hard drive can quickly become unorganized and hard to find if you are saving them in generic “catch-all” places, like the Downloads folder of your desktop. It’s tempting to just save a downloaded file quickly to a general folder, so you know right where to access it. But as you continue doing this, you end up with files without any organization whatsoever. You will save time in the long run by taking a few extra seconds to save documents to the right folder in the first place. 

Do File Cleanup & Archiving Once a Month

Company employees are adding more digital files to company storage each day. It can quickly double in size before you know it. Your storage can get out of hand and become difficult to search if you’re not culling and archiving regularly. Have an admin do upkeep on your company file storage once per month. Do the same for your personal computer to keep the hard drive from filling up too soon. Some of the activities that you want to do monthly to keep files manageable are:

  • Delete files that are no longer needed
  • Archive files you need to retain, but are not actively used, to get them out of the way
  • Look for misfiled documents and file them in the right place
  • Remove additional copies of files that are unnecessary

Get Help Securing Your Cloud System & Keeping it Efficient

Managed IT Asia can help your Singapore business improve team productivity by improving your use of the cloud, including storage systems, business applications, and more. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. Call +65 6748 8776 or reach us online.

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