Whilst in a whirlwind of demanding projects or work, the last thing I want to be doing is searching for files! That just drives me crazy especially when time is ticking away. However more often that not, as designers, we are usually dealing with multiple clients and files. Being organized, at least with my files, enables me to work more efficiently.
Here are some of my easy to do tips that helps me make my workflow more efficient and speeds up my design production time. I achieve this by having well-organized files and here is how!
#1. Move your saved file to the right folder.
As soon as you download a file, move it to the relevant project folder where your other project assets are saved. Don’t keep it in the default location. This is because when files are accumulated in the Download folder, it becomes increasingly more challenging to to find files in that single folder.
#2. Have a system to name your files.
Have a system for naming your files. Don’t keep the default name of the downloaded file. I guarantee you that it will quickly be "lost" as you will forget the generic name of that file. With a file naming system. you do not have to constantly struggle to remember the names of your files for different projects.
Personally, I rename files by placing the client, the subject, the date and the person I am working. For example: RF4-ABC_Sept24_John. In this way, I can quickly check what the file is for. Adopt a file naming system that works for you.
#3. Don’t be afraid to create layers of folders!
It can be bothersome to create folders and sub-folders but this is one of the most effective methods in organizing large number of files across multiple projects and client. Investing in this upfront will eventually make your workflow easier and faster. By moving your files into relevant folders and sub-folders, it makes it easier for you to locate your files quickly. The search functions on a computer is handy but that is dependent on you having renamed your file and remembering how you named those files. As a designer, you will work with hundreds it not thousands of files. So the easier it is for to locate your files, the better.
One simple practice is to create a parent folder for a particular client / company / project and then create subfolders for each project. Adopt a folder system practice that is simple for you to remember and maintain.
#4. Leverage shortcuts.
One secret trick I have is using shortcut. Shortcuts aren’t just for programs. You can create shortcuts for files too. This comes in handy when I am dealing with a file that I want to save in many places at the same time. Instead of doing that, I use shortcuts!
Saving duplicates eats up a huge amount of space on my hard drive, which in turn can slow down my computer. This way, I get more mileage with the current specifications of my computer.
#5. Backup, backup, backup.
This tip is not exacly about organizing but definitely about being organized. Technology is great but remember Murphy’s Law. When you least expect or want it to happen, things may go wrong. I personally have encountered multiple times when things went wrong with my computer and it brought me to tears as I lost files. This is a classic story that many of us have personally encountered. So, invest in a backup drive and create a copy of your most important files.
You can buy a backup software or just use the proprietary backup service of your operating system. To save space on your drive, consider archiving your past projects files on Cloud Drive. Google Drive, OneDrive, DropBox … this is a long list and you select whichever is best for you.
Organizing your files doesn’t only make our computer look clutter-free but with these simple procedures, you can save a whole lot of time. This is because you won’t have to deal with a slow computer or looking for files. Most importantly, you will be able to find the right files in no time. These are just a handful of tips I find useful in making my virtual workstation organized and I hope it works for you as well!