I was working with one of my individual session-mentees the other day. We were reviewing what we had accomplished so far and amongst the documents we had been working on, we found one we did not recognize. The name sounded familiar, but we felt unsure of what the document actually contained.
We opened it and saw that it was a previous version of a checklist she now uses which we created during one of the first sessions. We skimmed it through and realized that it was outdated. Suddenly five minutes had passed and we had needlessly lost the flow we were in.
Hardly “once in a lifetime”
If this had been a rare occurrence concerning a single file, it would not be much of a problem. But, the more old documents we leave lying amongst the more recent and updated ones, the more time will be spent on going through these old documents to determine what they are about and if they are of any use to us. Having too many outdated documents will definitely result in repeated breaks in your work-flow.
Consciously make an effort to remove or at least move the documents which are no longer active or useful elsewhere so that you do not have to stumble across them again and again.
This way you will not have to be distracted by them and can focus on the material you need to work with. Out of sight will become out of mind.
- Decide what you from now on will name the digital folders where you place material that might be irrelevant but which you still want to save, just in case. The name could for instance include “Archive” or “_old”.
- When you find a document in the Explorer (or Finder if you have a Mac) that is out of date, determine if you can throw it away (which is preferable) or if you want to save it.
- If you still need to keep it, put it in the archive-folder in the folder you are working with at the moment (or create one if there isn’t one already).
- Enjoy that you now only have to see the documents you use frequently and which are the most recent versions of the documents in question.
Find the right document quicker
If you make sure to put all outdated documents out of sight you will no longer have to waste time determining what is outdated and what isn’t. You will not have to encounter older and outdated versions of documents which are named in more or less creative ways (such as “Draft of business plan, version 3‑most recent version-NOTE-this-is-the-most-current-version, with Tommy’s adjustments, under construction.docx”).
You will find the document you are looking for faster since there are fewer documents in the same location that might distract you. The downside is that you will have many folders all over the hard drive that are all named “_old” (or something like it), but perhaps you can live with that.
What’s your way?
How do you make sure you only see what you are currently working on? Feel free to leave a comment below.