What feelings are conjured up by the phrase, “file not found?” If you are unable to locate an important file on your PC, you are going to have a bad time. Insult is added to injury when you cannot find a file that you created because you do not remember what you named it.

This blog article will show you a few best practices when it comes to naming and organizing your files. This task may seem trivial because it is easy to do, but if you are intentional and organized with the naming of your files, then you will be saved a significant amount of time in the future when you need to retrieve them.

Plant a File Tree
The temptation is to save a file in your My Documents folder by default, and while doing this will quickly allow you to save your work and move on, it can also make for a cluttered computer. If your My Documents folder is full to bursting with random files, then it will be well worth your time to organize your mess into a manageable file tree. The base of your file tree will be your major projects and events, like work, personal, hobbies, ideas, etc., and within these files your tree will branch off into subcategories like project dates, people, topics, clients, and so on. Your operating system has already started you with a file tree by providing you files for documents, music, photos, etc., but you can always branch off from this and make a personalized file tree that is most logical for you. It’s as simple as right-clicking and creating a new folder to drag files to.

Give Specific File Names
The more specific that you are when naming a file, the easier it will be to track it down. The filename should include people’s names, dates, and the version of the file. Like your file tree, you will want to give your files names that make sense to you, and if you are sharing the file on a company network, then you should make a filename that is clear enough for everyone to understand. It is also a good idea to rename files that are downloaded off the internet at the time of the download, if you do not rename the file, it will automatically be saved with the filename from whoever created it. This random filename will likely not be congruent with your file tree system, and may even be a random bunch of numbers and letters that is unsearchable.

Use Keywords to Make Files Searchable
It is a good idea to include a few extra keywords that best describe the file. A file search will first scan the filename before scanning the content; this means a well worded filename will make for quicker search results. You will also want to use several keywords when naming a scanned document, because the text in the document is usually saved as an image and not as searchable text.

Being able to quickly find the file you need will save you time and frustration. Another practice you can do to speed up a file search is to routinely go through your file tree and delete unneeded files, this will also clear up space on your hard drive, just remember to backup any file that might have any trace of importance. Organizing your current mess of files may be a big undertaking, and it will take discipline to stick to your new file tree, but if you stick to this practice, you will notice an increase in productivity.

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