Digital Organizing Part 1 – Organizing your computer files

This is the first of a three-part series on organizing the digital side of your business.

laptop with computer file foldersThe start of a New Year is a time for renewal. Never are people more motivated to make positive changes in their life than in January.

Losing weight, exercising and getting organized are the most common New Year’s resolutions North American’s make each year. They are also the ones that are the hardest to keep.

While I can’t help you shed those extra pounds or work up a sweat, I can do something about the state of your business. Creating systems to help you streamline how things get done is one part. But what I’m about to show you will revolutionize and simplify the way you organize the digital side of your business, particularly your computer files.

Can you focus in a cluttered workspace?

Some people are really good at focusing on their work despite being surrounded by mess and clutter. I’m not one of those people.

Maybe it’s because I’m a visual person. When I see something lying around I immediately think I have to do something about it. It takes a lot of my energy (and time) to either:

a) Talk myself out of it and focus on my task or

b) Do something about it and get distracted from my task.

The result of either scenario is the same. I waste time and energy and my focus is shattered. Not a good situation when I’m trying to run my business and serve my clients … all within a given amount of time.

Whether it’s your computer or your physical workspace, clutter kills your productivity. It’s that simple. Tweet that!

If you want to get more done in less time, start by cleaning up the mess

I’m going to assume your computer is in clutter chaos. Deep down, you know this to be true. But if you’re still in denial, the number one symptom is your computer desktop. Does it look like a patchwork quilt full of random documents? If so, then it’s time to take action. You need to build your filing foundation.

I know … this isn’t the sexy part, but stick with me. We’ll get your computer files organized in 3 easy-to-follow steps.

Three steps to creating your filing foundation

Step 1 :: Map it out

Before you start randomly tucking away documents in folders, take 30 minutes to map out what your filing system will look like.  Get out a pen and paper, or use a mind mapping tool and create your top tier files.

The top five folders of my filing foundation are:

  1. Clients
  2. Services
  3. Operations
  4. Money
  5. Sales + Marketing

Map of my filing system

Map of my filing systemStep 2 :: The name game

If you’re going to create a filing system that you can trust, it has to make sense to you. Use names that are meaningful and intuitive to you. For example, which word resonates with you: Car or Automobile? Money or Financials? Operations or Administration?  Use meaningful words in all levels of your filing foundation.

Step 3 :: It’s time for the magic to happen

Now that you have your top-tier file folders in place, you’re ready to start the organizing process. Go through your existing files and decide what stays and what goes. Depending on how many documents you have, this may take some time. However, once you get into the groove of using your new filing foundation, the process of organizing can move at lightening speed.

One final word …

Once you’ve built your electronic filing foundation, extend it to your paper files as well. You’ll use less brain power when your paper and electronic filing foundations match.

Now it’s your turn

How is the state of your computer files? Have you made a resolution to clean up your computer?  Share your comments below and let’s continue our conversation.

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