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Lesson 17: Organizing Your Computer Files

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Organizing files

Do you forget where you've put important documents because your electronic filing system is a mess? Do you waste time sifting through long lists of files trying to find the one you need? Organize your computer files so they are stored logically and can be accessed easily.

Get rid of excess

Before you get started, delete all old or unused files. To decide what to keep and what to delete, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I referred to this document in six months?
  • Can I get the information somewhere else?
  • Do I need to keep this for legal reasons?

If the answer is no to any of these questions, think about getting rid of the file or document.

Create categories

Any electronic filing system should have categories, similar to a paper filing system. Use descriptive titles so you know exactly what the folders contain. Create logical sequences so you don't have to guess where you may have filed something. To begin creating categories:

  • Decide on some main broad categories of information, such as Clients, Bills, or Safety.
  • Write these down on paper before setting them up on your computer.
  • If necessary, create subfolders from the main categories. Try writing these down in outline form to help organize your thoughts. For example, Safety might be a main category. Subfolders might be Electrical, Safe Lifting, and First Aid Training.
  • Transfer existing files to the appropriate areas.
  • Test your system by seeing if others can find what they need.

Purge often

Now that you've created a logical electronic filing system, keep it that way by purging often. Don't keep junk. The more files and folders you keep on your computer, the more organized you will need to be.

For more information on organizing files on your computer, check out the lesson on Working with Files in our Windows Basics tutorial.