I’ll be honest and confess that organisation in a physical sense has never been a strong point of mine. I feel like I’m pretty good at being creative, at negotiating projects and at meeting deadlines (most of the time), but often this comes at the expense of any sort of admin or order. And to make it worse, after working on my blog as a hobby for years the rate at which it turned into my business and a full time job was overwhelmingly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about this, but I had very little admin structure in place to deal with it.
At the beginning of the year, and when I started having staff in the studio, I realised that it was time to get organised. Much like many of you going back to school or university, I needed to take the time to put in place systems that provide order and structure in my life, making everything more efficient. Because chances are there are a few of us out there who lack order in their lives, over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing a few different posts with you from the Get Organised series – the first one being all about creating order on your computer. Boring maybe, but so essential for building a business or just generally being more efficient.
1. Tidy your desktop
We all know that environment effects efficiency so if your computer screen is a total disaster (yep, me, all the time) chances are your productivity will be too. It’s time to Marie Kondo your desktop. Now! Important programs or reference tools as well as frequently used folders can stay out but otherwise keep it clear of clutter and file or delete things that are old or you never use.
2. Use your desktop efficiently
One thing I’ve started doing is using my desktop as a sort of to – do list. An active space where things are put, filed, noted and used and then moved on when they’re no longer needed. One way I’ve done this is by using a desktop background that acts as a call to action. And lucky for you, Beline Love Lee and I have created a pretty one for you to use. You can download it here. I’m also a big fan of adding shortcuts to folders that I use all the time, or projects that are currently being worked on.
3. Create an A Grade folder structure (and then sort all your files)
When I worked in town planning we were audited routinely so everything had to be labelled perfectly and saved in exactly the right folder. Otherwise you would have a scary management consultant breathing down the back of your neck, which made for a very organized filing system. So basically what I have tried to recreate on my network (and computer) is the same sort of precision, so anybody can find what they need (including me!).
What you’re looking for is a predictable and legible hierarchy of folders that reflect projects or clients and subfolders underneath for various stages and deliverables. Eg:
- Hong Kong Tourism Board
- Working Files
In the event that a project has variations or new proposals, you should bundle different stages together with the above files coming underneath. Eg:
- J Crew
- IFC Store Event
- Working Files
- Central Travel Guide
- Working Files
- IFC Store Event
One good thing about these folders is they help to remind you about what each project needs, it’s kinda like a mental checklist to make sure you have the signed contract in the file.
For those of you thinking about organising your home or personal computer, don’t be afraid to apply the same sort of order – split up personal folders the same detailed way and you’ll never be left searching. (For those of you wondering, it took me more than 2 days to sort all my random files into the above folder structure. *deep breath in deep breath out*).
4. Date (and label) your files properly
I don’t mean take them out to dinner and a movie, I mean put the right name and date on them so you can understand when they were created and what they are. Don’t make it hard to understand, assume future you is drunk and needs to find something, like, asap. I like to use date, name and then version number (if needed). Ie:
01102015 Club Monaco Proposal v 3.pdf
Yes it takes a little longer to label things in this way, but think of all the time you’ll save in the long run. What you’re after here is consistency, so pick a way to go about it and stick to it.
5. Banish Misc/Temp/Downloads Folders
Occasionally you will have a file or and document that just doesn’t fit anywhere else so a temporary or miscellaneous folder is sometimes necessary. Just make sure it doesn’t turn into your new dumping ground! On a Mac downloads automatically go to the downloads folder. Which very quickly ends up being the biggest folder on your computer and impossible to find anything in. To stop this, change the settings so that as soon as you download something it will ask you where you want to save it.
6. Get in the Cloud
Insert cloud emoji. But seriously, there’s nothing better than having all your data online and available no matter where you are. For me, I’ve linked my dropbox to my computer network, so I have a dropbox folder and everything else comes under that, and is thus up there, swirling around with the rain and the hail and the aeroplanes.
7. Stick to the system
Once you have a filing and organizing system in place make sure you actually use it. Otherwise you will be faced with the same problem again in a few months. The moment you download, create or save something put it in the right spot. If there isn’t a spot for it create a new folder. Here’s to an organised computer that will put you on a path to a great holiday, or one day becoming a big business!
Desktop wallpaper created by Belinda Love Lee for A Pair & A Spare