How to Organise and Name your Electronic Files and Folders

Whatever size your business it’s a wise idea to have your files saved somewhere securely that you can access from any device (in case one goes pop, stolen or left on a train) and not saved on your desktop or a tiny little USB stick.

I use and recommend Google Drive, I love how easy it is to search and store your files and you can access them from any device, anywhere!

Don’t panic though, it really is easier than it sounds.

First, we need to understand the difference between files and folders, which you may already know, but for those who may not:

Files: Files are your individual documents and images, like Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDF documents and images in various formats.

Folders: Folders are where files of a similar genre can be kept. You don’t necessarily need folders, but without them, it can be harder to find things quickly. It makes more sense to keep things together, e.g. all accounting documents in one folder and all logos and images for your business in another.

When I work with my clients to set up their electronic filing system it helps to understand what they do.

I’ve listed below some folders most business owners need, but you may not need all of them. If you don’t, don’t create them. They’ll just take up space and cause confusion.

Folders you’ll probably need

A few folders you can start with, whatever your business, are:

Accounts
Marketing
Clients
Templates
Images / Logos
Contracts

Then as the business grows or you find your folders have lots of files in you could add sub-folders. For example:

Under ‘Clients‘ you could have folders named: Client A, Client B and under Accounts, you might want to create sub-folders to make it easier to find things, for example:

Clients

Client A
Client B

Accounts

Financial Year 18/19
Financial Year 19/20
HMRC Correspondence
Invoices
Receipts

Naming your files

Think about what you might search for in five years time after a severe memory lapse. I’ll give you a few examples:

An invoice from a supplier that you use every month:
Client A – Invoice 8901 – August 2019

In the future, you’ll likely be searching for that client, the invoice number or the date of the transaction. You might also want to include the items to make it even easier to find them, e.g.:

Client A – Invoice 8901 – August 2019 – 500 marketing flyers

Sometimes documents come through already named, you can overwrite these quite easily and I recommend you do because a document called 2947385903.pdf isn’t going to mean anything in ten minutes let alone ten months.

If you’re using Google Drive, right click on any of the files and select ‘Rename’ then pop in a name that will be easy to find. If you’re using another system it’s usually right click and the same process.

Some other things to consider

  • Remember, files and folders are yours, to make your life easier so make it work for you.
  • Don’t overthink it, you can easily change the names of everything at any time.
  • Less is more. Don’t go making endless folders, simplify your selection, but equally don’t put everything in a miscellaneous folder. If it’s really miscellaneous it’s probably not needed.
  • You do NOT need a duplicate copy of anything just to be on the safe side. You only need one copy! If it’s in the cloud it’s as safe as it’s going to be.

Question

‘Can you store Word documents or only Google documents?’

You can store anything, Word, Excel, PDF, image formats, etc. As long as you have the programme installed on your device you can open it in that programme, if you don’t then you open it in the equivalent Google programme, which is just as good.

‘How do I add Google Drive to my MAC?’

https://www.google.co.uk/drive/download/

 

Catherine Gladwyn

As a Virtual Assistant I am here to take care of the jobs that need doing, but you just don't have the time for. catherine@delegatevirtualassistant.co.uk

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