To help you save time and work more effectively, it is well worth putting a file management system in place to help your business run more smoothly. Although not everyone is naturally well organised, being able to keep track of and find computer files when you need them can make a big difference to your productivity and stress levels.
You may have heard advice about file management and how it should be organised, such as ‘save everything in one place’ or ‘develop a system for naming files’. There are no hard and fast rules governing as to how everyone should manage their files. Much like the paper filing systems of old it doesn’t really matter how you decide to organise your files as long as it makes sense to you and anyone else who may need to access your files.
It is important to remember that if you have employees, or share files with clients, your system needs to be easy for everyone to understand. There is no point having an obscure file naming system that only makes perfect sense to you. If your Personal Assistant and other team members can’t find the files need effienctly, whether to update spreadsheets or to send to clients, there’s going to be a big productivity problem.
Here are a few guidelines to help you manage your files more smoothly.
- Choose one place to store your files. Keep it simple with one central place to store all files. Having files spread out around on your hard drive in different directories will add time to your day as you have to search for them. Choose or create one folder as a central place to store files, preferably backed up daily. Storing files all over your hard drive also has the added problem of slowing down your computer and if there is a technical malfunction may mean that you lose essential files and information.
- Create a hierarchy rather than putting everything in one single folder. This makes it much easier to find the exact information you are looking for. It is easiest if it follows a logical progression. An example would look like the below:
Documents – Clients – XYZ Company – Proposals – Not Yet Sent – Version 2.2.
- Standard file names. Never save files under the default name that Word or Excel provides. It is easy to do when you are in a rush but taking a few moments to think of a meaningful name can save you a lot of frustration and fruitless searching later on.
- Version Control. Be careful if you are working on documents for which you have multiple versions like proposals or anything else which requires a template approach. Make sure you always save the document under a new name before you start making changes or you may get confused and could end up having to redo the original.
Getting your file management right is one of the fundamentals of any business IT system. If you implement a sensible and logical system and make sure you stick to it you can help things run more smoothly and reduce stress and unnecessary work, giving you more time to spend on your expanding and growing your business.