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17 Oct

Make folders easy to find

Datum: 2023-10-17 15:00
Two right hand fingers press a search field with a magnifying glass to the left.

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:

  1. 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. 

  2. 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.

Do this

If you want to make it a lit­tle bit eas­i­er to find the fold­ers you are look­ing for, then do this:

  1. 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.
  2. Take a look at the fold­ers you see right away. Are they named accord­ing to a coher­ent, con­se­quent format?
  3. 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?”

Want more tips?

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If you want more tips on how to create good structure at work, there are many ways to get that from me - in podcasts, videos, books, talks and other formats.

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