A vital aspect of having good structure is being organized — having a good, organized structure for our documents and all the other things we need to do our job. Perhaps this is what most people first associate with when they hear the word ”structure”. Folder structure, sorting, filing, things being in their designated places.
For you who prefer listening to reading, this post is also available as an episode of the “Done!” podcast:
Search for or put in a folders structure?
Most of us save files in some sort of digital folders on the computer, on the server, in Cloud-based services and perhaps even in our email inbox. Even if some claim that folder structures are outdates and that searching for documents is the modern way to keep track of things, at least I like saving my files and documents in a clearly organized folder structure.
But searching for what we need is of course an easy and fast way to find it, so if you are like me, you sometimes want to ”click your way” to the right folder and sometimes quickly search for it by writing the name of the file.
Two rules-of-thumb for the names of folders
But what should we name the folder so that we find it easily?
Well, when we name our folders we can be guided by two principles:
- The name should follow the same pattern
If the folders are named in a consequent manner it will be easier to guess what it is called when we search for it even if we do not remember the exact name. We phrase the names by combining components such as theme, organizational unit, names of clients, type of document, year, month, source of information, status of the documents in the folder, or whatever is relevant regarding the documents we will save in the folder. All folders do not have to have the exact same format to their name, but folders containing similar kinds of information (but for different clients, years, geographical areas et c) are preferably given names according to the same structure.
- The name should be unique
When we search for a folder we want to see which one of the search results that is the right one as easily as possible. If we have adhered to the first principle, about keeping names of folders coherent, but placed folders with identical names in different places, it will take longer than it should to find out which one of the folder that is the right one. Therefore you should choose to keep a component of the name unique so that it becomes easier to identify from all the similarly named folders.
If you want to make it a little bit easier to find the folders you are looking for, then do this:
- Choose one of the locations where you have saved digital documents and files. It can be a local place on your computer or a shared storage space, either within our outside of your organization.
- Take a look at the folders you see right away. Are they named according to a coherent, consequent format?
- If you see any folder or folders that you could give better names, then change their names right away if you have the authority to do so, or decide to bring it up with the others who might also use the folders frequently. You could suggest something more appropriate during a meeting sometime soon or some other forum you use to discuss and make quick and simple decisions in.
Easy to get it right
If you name your folders in a coherent, consequent format and also remember to give them unique names, it will become much easier to find the right folder — especially when you search for it, but also as you are ”clicking your way through” a folder structure. Instead of spending time on figuring out which folder that is the right one, you will know instantly by its name. Simple and easy.
If you become really apt at searching for specific items, you might even get search results containing only what you are looking for!
What is your way?
What principle do you use to name your folders in a way that makes them easy to find? Tell me!
(By the way, have you got rid of the “Old desktop” folder?”