As we know, it’s all too easy to let our technology get out of hand to the point where we feel disorganized and stressed out. I’ve previously mentioned two of the biggest areas of discontent–managing passwords and disposing of old cords and devices. Over the next three issues, I’ll discuss other technological culprits that leave us feeling overwhelmed: messy file organization, the clutter of unused apps & accounts, and storing & finding photos. I’ll begin this month with file organization.
Organizing Our Computer Files
Maybe you’re the type of computer user who saves and keeps every file you have on your desktop. While having a cluttered desktop will slow down a Mac to some degree (not so much on a PC), the bigger issue this creates is that you won’t be able to find something quickly when you need it.
Or, perhaps, you throw everything into a single folder, or many separate folders. This is a step better than just leaving them on your desktop. But, it can still be hard to locate that one file you’re looking for unless you’ve organized these folders into something called “subfolders.”
I recommend using your Documents folder as an optimal storage location. Think of your Documents folder more as a filing cabinet. In that filing cabinet, there are folders and subfolders (like a hanging file folder system, to continue the visual reference). Name each folder according to the topic, and name each subfolder as a smaller subject within that topic. Then save each file you have in the subfolder it pertains to. For example:
Above is a screenshot of a Finder window on a Mac, showing the Documents folder, its folders, subfolders, and their individual files. I have a folder named after my Google IT Support Certification class. In that folder are files and a subfolder for class notes. The class notes subfolder has a file with notes on Modems and Routers.
You can get to the Finder by clicking on this guy:
On a Windows PC, you’ll find the Documents folder in File Explorer. Click on this icon to use File Explorer:
In this example, I’m using the Documents folder within Microsoft’s OneDrive, seen below. There’s also a different Documents folder located in your user folder on your C:/ drive. Don’t get them confused, as they are not syncing their contents with each other. I recommend using just one of the Documents folders as your main “filing cabinet.”
Pro Tips for Both PC and Mac!
Give your files names that make sense to you and distinguish them from other, similar files. Instead of “Letter,” try to be more specific: “Kathy Recommendation Letter.”
• Add dates to the end of file names that you create a lot of: “Meeting Notes 020423.” (The date being February 4, 2023 in this example.)
• Sometimes you want to have easy and quick access to a file. To keep it at the top of an alphabetically sorted list in a folder, you can add a symbol in front of it: “*Important Ideas.” (The asterisk will come before the letter A in the list.)
• Having your folders and files stored consistently in the same manner will go a long way to cutting down on the anxiety we face when we can’t find something. It will also save you time that you could be spending on more productive activities—like collecting branches that fell in the last ice storm.
Be sure to let me know if you need help getting your files organized. Once you start, you’ll never go back.
Next month, I’ll explore part II in this series: How to Declutter your Unused Apps & Accounts.