Business filing has come a long way since the boxes of paper invoices and stacks of project notes of the past. These days, many businesses have moved to a purely digital format, a fact that’s especially true for companies who work in the digital arena, like web designers and developers.
Although digital filing has the same basic concept as paper filing – labeled folders organized (usually alphabetically) in an intuitive way – digital filing has some interesting considerations. Because digital files don’t take up room in your office, it’s easy to keep digital files you no longer need. This “out of sight, out of mind” mentality can also lead to digital file disorganization very quickly!
Digital file organization is critical to success for a web design business. Here are eight tips to keeping your inbox and desktop in organized order.
- Take stock of what you have – The best place to start your file organization is to see what you have and review your workflow. What files are easiest to find? What type of files do you spend most time searching for? This is also a great time to review your files and delete or backup old, outdated or unnecessary files.
- Keep your files in one place – Create one place for all your business files. This might be My Documents on a PC, a share drive, an external hard drive or even a cloud data storage program. It doesn’t matter where you keep them, but knowing they are all in one location saves you time searching and will kick-start your digital file organization.
- Create folders – Think of your singular file location as a virtual filing cabinet and fill it with folders. Label each folder intuitively, and nest folders within folders (which is an advantage over traditional paper filing). For instance, create a folder for a client and organize work for them by year (2010, 2011) or by correspondence type (invoices, notes, creative).
- Name your files consistently – How you name your files is up to you and should make sense to your organization style and workflow, but some rules to remember are keep your file names under 27 characters and use underscores instead of spaces. If you break any of these rules, break them consistently. Keep the naming conventions the same for all clients.
- Keep your business and personal files separate – This practice will help you cut down on clutter and will come in handy when you’re backing up your files.
- Put everything in a folder – Many computer users save everything to one folder (usually My Documents or a similar top-level folder) and never move these files to a more relevant and organized place on their computer – especially when it comes to downloaded files. Remedy this by creating a download folder that you can review regularly.
- Create shortcuts – Instead of saving regularly used files in multiple places, create a desktop shortcut. This cuts down on the clutter and keeps the original file safely in the correct folder.
- Backup your files – Use an external hard drive to backup your files as well as a storage location for inactive or unused client files. This is a great way to keep invoices for past clients and save space on your hard drive.
Following these easy tips will not only help you be more productive, but can help you keep your business finances in order.
About the Author:Thomas is a freelance writer who writes for Next Door Self Storage. When he’s not doing that, he has fun researching the latest in the tech world.