The most common question I received on email was actually a request to do a post on filing in general. Lots of people wrote in to say that learning about filing is one of their greatest productivity issues.
What categories should you use for your computer files? What are the best practices for filing in general? How should one manage paper-based files (which, although secondary to electronic files, still have a place)? Is there a consistent category structure (or at least set of principles) to implement across your whole computer (documents, pictures, videos, iTunes, iPhoto, etc.) and then also your paper-based files?
I’ll be talking about all these things in the near future. Filing is a huge issue. A lot of time (and therefore money!) goes into the documents we create, and so it only makes sense that they should also be organized in an orderly, easy-to-access way. Making our documents and other files maximally accessible and useful is just as important as creating them in the first place.
If you set up your computer files right, you will have a streamlined workflow and save yourself a ton of time. If you don’t, your workflow is obstructed and just becomes less enjoyable in general.
Fortunately, there are some really solid principles on how to organize your files. I’ve done a bunch of research on filing (it started when I was organizing the DG website — there is a lot of overlap between website structure and filing, because both have to do with information architecture), and several winters ago I spent about 50 hours (yes, to my shame!) going through a process of trial and error to get everything right and document my conclusions.
I hope that the time I spent figuring out filing will save others a lot of time and help show a more enjoyable way to work as well.
So, that’s coming soon.