In the past, I’ve discussed steps you can take to organize your office, and even how to organize your office electronics. This time, I’m going to discuss organizing the files on your computer. If you’re the sort to dump everything into the same folder all the time, or to keep it all on your desktop, this article is written for you! A computer file system is an extension of your paper filing cabinet; the more organized it is, the easier it is for you to find the information you need quickly. And, while it seems like this is elementary information, there are a lot of people out there who just don’t think this way naturally, and put every file in the same folder, regardless.
Before we get started, this bears mentioning: you’re going to read this article, and you’re going to say to yourself, “Self, this sounds hard and not-fun. Let’s procrastinate.” Like anything else, the sooner you get it done the sooner you’ll be wishing you had done it sooner. So don’t procrastinate!
- Create Folders: Folders were created for a reason. They help you to categorize your major “areas” of files. Group all like files together – by topic, not by file type. For example, all your music files should be grouped together in a folder called “Music” or something similar. Likewise, images. And client forms. And everything else. Name the folder so that it is plainly obvious what it contains.
- Keep Them All Together: Like you should group all like files together under one folder, you should group all your folders together in one place. For Windows users, the most logical place is the My Documents folder. But, you can put them anywhere – just make it as easy on yourself as possible to find ALL your folders in one place.
- Sub-categorize: You’ve got files in a folder. You may want to consider categorizing those files WITHIN the folder. For example, every file I have that is related to travel goes in a “Travel Folder” that is in my “My Documents” folder. When you open “Travel”, you find a folder for all the client forms, another for images, another for articles like this one, another for informational printouts, and so on. Don’t be afraid to sub-categorize as much as you need to in order to find files quickly. But, keep it as minimum as you can – the idea is to organize everything, but get to the file in the least amount of mouse-clicks.
Archive it: If you have files you don’t need on a regular basis anymore, but you’d like to keep them around for whatever reason, create an Archive folder and move them there. Keep your regular folders for more “active” content – stuff you’ll need or use more frequently. You’ll be amazed how much that will clean up your file system and make it easier to find the stuff you need without having to weed through the marketing plan you wrote four years ago.
Steve Cousino, ACC, CTA, LS has been a travel professional since 2005 and currently owns Exclusive Events At Sea (http://www.exclusiveeventsatsea.com) and Journeys By Steve (http://www.journeysbysteve.com) with specializations in group cruising, individual ocean & river cruising, and personalized experiences in Europe, especially the British Isles. In addition, Steve heads up WordPressForTravelAgents.com, an email-based WordPress education system designed specifically for the busy travel professional. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.