Are you plagued by multiple files and folders that are crammed with various file formats? Do you always resort to the time-consuming “search all” to find a file in your hard drive or external drive?

If the answer is yes, then you may want to devote an hour or two of your time to–once and for all–organize all your computer files. At first, this may sound like a daunting task, but it pays off in the long run. An efficient system of file organization streamlines your computing experience. It also saves you a lot of time which can then translate to productivity. And productivity is a must, especially for someone whose livelihood involves spending hours every day in front of a computer.

archive file

Maintain a consistent system of naming files

When you create file names, use a system of naming documents that you can adopt consistently throughout. For example, if you write feature articles for a living, then using the full title of the article as the filename is a good idea. You may also want to create different folders to further categorize your articles. For photographs, you may want to name them by specifying the dates and short corresponding descriptions. The key is to not deviate from your accustomed system of naming. That way, it is easy for you to locate a file when you need it because you know exactly which folder to click.

Use meaningful file names

The file name alone must give you an idea about what’s inside the file. If you want to save copies of various drafts of the same file that you are working on, then use a naming convention like Title_V1, Title_V2, and so on.

Use preview functions

Thumbnail preview functions quickly tell you what’s inside the file. This is especially useful for people in the digital graphics industry. Hundreds of image files in one folder can be difficult to handle unless you can readily see a small facsimile of the image.

Do not use your desktop as a catch-all for all of your to-do files

Is your desktop cluttered with files that you are simultaneously working on? If so, do they collectively take on more than half of your desktop wallpaper?

If that is the case, then you might want to designate your desktop only to the most urgent finish-this-or-perish files. Otherwise, each time you turn on your computer and see all those files, you will feel overwhelmed. You may lose focus. Constant reminders of the mountain of work ahead of you may have a negative effect on your productivity. It’s true that some people can work faster when multiple tasks are hurled their way. But if you are the type of worker who gets overwhelmed if greeted by files that need to be finished on a so-and-so time, then clear your desktop to save your sanity.

If accessibility is an issue, then you may want to store all the desktop-worthy files in a folder and work from there. If you need to be reminded of deadlines and seasonal tasks, then opt for an electronic organizer. You can set it to pop an alarm to serve as your reminder. This is far more efficient than putting everything on your desktop.