As a writer, I live and die by my computer. My entire life is on my laptop, and you know I am not exaggerating. Every project, blog article, and draft of my writing is on this PC. So, when I talk about getting organized, this is a high priority. We all know we need to get our computer organized, and we all sigh in frustration as it seems a major waste of our valuable time. This is a new year, and while it would be great to go back and reorganize, I am not going to ask that you do that. I am going to make a few suggestions as to handle your files moving forward so that next year at this time you won’t even have to think about it!
#1 IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE, PLEASE DO THIS! Back up your computer! We all know we should do this, but again it seems like a waste of time, right? That is until our computer crashes because of a spilled soda, power surge, or just a bad HHD, and everything vanishes! You may think you have nowhere to backup your files and external HDD, however there are tons of FREE places to back up your files. You can do it while multi-tasking, and you will have the reassurance that everything is safe.
At the end of this article is a listing of resources for online backups. I actually use two. I use A-Drive and Dropbox.
I like A-Drive because I load it and it sits. I know it is there whenever I need access to it, and no matter what I do on or with my files on my laptop, that data is there. Their 50G storage plan is free. If you want something with more bells and whistles, their plans are reasonable. The second resource I use is Dropbox. This was introduced to me by my editor when she began having challenges with yahoo mail. There are several reasons I love Dropbox. The first is the ease of use. You download it to your laptop and start saving files. You can share files with others, and anytime files are updated you receive a notification. This is awesome when you have a few people working on the same project. You can also designate who sees what. If I want to add someone to one of the shared folders, that doesn’t mean they can see everything, they can only the folder I designate. I use it religiously so I do not have to carry two computers around. Drop box enables me to get to all of my files so if I need to send or edit something at work I have fast and easy access. There are no limits to the number of peeps you can share with, and best of all it is FREE! I have been asked if I have tried the MSN SKYE Drive and I have. Unfortunately it was too slow for me. Creating subfolders is a pain and it just doesn’t work for me.
PLEASE set a reminder on your calendar for AT LEAST every other month to back up your files. Even if you are just adding updates, you will be grateful in the end.
#2 Create a naming convention for your DOCs – Not just your folders but your actual documents. There are several ways to do it. No, there are millions of ways. You need to find one that suits you and stick to it. For me, I am all about dating. Documents are usually the title, but if there are various versions of this document I put the date every time I save. So for example, Get Organized P2 01.09.12 is the name of this file. If I were to edit or change it after this save I will change the date, which in turn creates a new file. Some will comment, isn’t it a waste of HDD space to just save the document over and over. To anyone else, yes would be the answer, but for me as a writer, I need to see every version of a piece. Every time I change something and save it anew, I like to have a copy of the old handy to refer back to. It is a progression dialog that I find helpful.
#3 Create a FOLDER naming convention – Folders can be easy or they can be difficult. I tend to not want too many folders and would rather have sub-folders. So I will categorize items several different ways, by project name, by month, by subject, or by type. For example, I tried to name folders by blog, and that became a pain in the butt because it was taking too long to sub categorize them as there could be various different types of items per blog, so I use a broader stroke now. Instead of my folders being
I found that my files could be headed in fewer groups and then made more specific by webpage. So now it looks like this…
You get the idea. So this may seem odd, but my thinking is when I ‘dump files’, and that is exactly what I do, I throw them in there and then organize later. I am grouping them in the easiest way. All of my blogs articles will be in one place. When I organize all I have to do is place them in the webpage subfolder. Again, find what works best for you, but definitely have a system and use it! It will save you time and energy moving forward.
#4 Pictures, Pictures, Pictures – We all have thousands of them and to go in and give each one a name is truly a pain in the butt. I was drowning, and then I started using photobucket and had two solutions in one! It is completely mobile, so I do not have to be on my computer to upload files. I can use the albums anyway I need to. I have access to them from everywhere, AND they are automatically backed up and off my PC. This is a no brainer! I have tried Picasa and a few others, but photobucket works best for me. I have the Firefox add in, and the simple click to upload to photobucket is a godsend. No more saving the pic and then having to file, upload etc…
#5 Day to Day Activity – We are all moving a mile a minute. I save everything I am currently working on to my desktop where I can find it with ease. This is awesome, except I HATE a full desktop. So when I am done with something and know I will probably need it again soon, or am just too lazy to file it properly, I create a NOW folder. I throw everything in the folder (that is located on my desktop) until I am able to go through and file. I am able to do this because I have designated my naming conventions and also my folders, so while it is a desktop junk-drawer when I go to clean it out, it will not be an unthinkable task.
So those are my five suggestions. I hope you find them helpful, and if you have any questions or need any assistance, please ask.
Here are some resources for you!