Join Dave Crenshaw for an in-depth discussion in this video Digital filing made simple, part of Time Management Fundamentals.
- What about digital files? I mentioned in a previous video that when it comes to digital items, when in doubt, keep them. But you may be wondering how to organize it all. There are many different approaches and new technology advances that are made almost daily that change the tools you might use. Because of that, I just want to share six fairly universal principles for digital organization regardless of the tool you use. What I'm about to share with you applies to everything except e-mail, which I'll cover later in the course.
First, if you're using a computer that contains both personal and work files, create two main folders; personal and work. This initial separation will make it easier to store items and find them later. Second, create broad categories within these folders. For instance, under my Work folder; I have legal, marketing, financial, sales, speaking, and so on. Third, you may create one more layer of subfolders.
For instance, in my speaking folder, I have subfolders for handouts, slides, and images. I use this more specific personal example to show you that there's no one right or wrong way to create these folders. Just use folder names and subcategories that are meaningful to you. Let me pause for a moment and summarize that I just suggested you have three layers of folders and no more. First, personal versus work.
Then, broad categories. Then, subcategories. I recommend you not go any deeper than this. Otherwise, you give yourself too much work trying to sort and organize things, which is really not necessary in today's age of ever more effective search engines. Once you've created the basic structure, then you'll have one folder name that you'll include in every subfolder you create called old. This is where you move older versions of files that you no longer are actively using.
This allows you to recover old information and archive it quickly to make space. For instance, when I create a new version of my slides for my focused business speech, you notice that I move the older version into the old folder. Now it's not lost but it's no longer cluttering up the main subfolder. This leads to the file naming itself. I recommend that to avoid confusion, you save each new version under a new name.
The easiest way I found to do this is with the year, month, day convention. Sometimes shown as this. Not only does this make it easy to create a new file version and not worry about making sure I'm calling it by the right version number but it comes in handy when viewing files sorted alphanumerically because it brings the newest version to the top. Then, after creating the new version or when I see an older version, I can drag and drop it into the old folder.
One final tip, make sure all of your files have automatic back-ups. There are many ways to accomplish this and software and hardware tools become outdated frequently. So, to avoid mentioning any product in particular, I'll just say, find a tool that you're comfortable with, that creates off-site back-ups of your files without you having to think about it. That way, even if your computer is completely destroyed, all you have to do is re-sync with your tool and in a matter of a day or two, all of your files will return.
By keeping your method of digital filing simple and consistent, you'll make it faster and easier to store and retrieve files when needed.
Learn how to get more done in the shortest time possible and avoid the obstacles and distractions that can get in the way of good time management. Dave gives practical strategies for increasing productivity in three main areas: developing habits to be more organized and reducing clutter in your workspace; staying mentally on task and eliminate the to-dos you have floating in your head; and developing a time budget to get the most done during your workday and focus on your most valuable activities.
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- Finding your productivity style and motivation
- Understanding the principles of time management
- Avoiding the pitfalls of multitasking
- Narrowing your gathering points
- Consolidating email and voicemail accounts
- Practicing mind-clearing techniques
- Choosing and using calendar software
- Saying no with tact
- Mastering the what, when, where processing system
- Processing email vs. checking email
- Maintaining productivity gains