A Guide to Digital File Organization

Julie Shenkman
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Organizing digital files may seem like a thing of the past thanks to the Search function on your computer. However, nothing could be further from the truth. As an administrative assistant, you need to find your files quickly and efficiently so you don't waste valuable time during your busy day.

Perhaps the most daunting thing about organizing your digital files includes the time it takes to set up your filing system in the first place. Once you put your computer files in the right places, you save much more time later. Creating a digital file cabinet isn't a waste of time, it represents an investment in your future because time is money.

Create a master folder into which all of your digital files go. Call it "My Filing Cabinet" or "Jennifer's Filing Cabinet," depending on your name. If you put your name on the master folder, that means everyone who shares your files knows who created that file in the first place. This alleviates any confusion if the administrative assistant is out of the office and someone needs a file ASAP.

Make a dedicated folder for downloads, and put all of your downloads into this main file before you sort them into relevant categories. Your computer already has a downloads folder, so move the file around to fall under the category of your main filing cabinet. Create a file labeled "Templates" so you know where to find the master copies of billing notices, thank-you letters and meeting minutes.

Continue to create subfolders under the main filing cabinet using your hard-copy files as a guide for categories. The beauty of digital files is that they reduce paperwork, so organizing these files on your computer may reduce paper usage and save physical space in your office. Electronic statements, electronic signatures, PDF files and shared files all make your job easier. Remember to keep these files secure so no one intercepts sensitive information.

Mobile devices and cloud computing also help organize your digital files. If you need to locate a file and you're already on your way home, a mobile app can retrieve the file for you so you can send it to the right location or person.

Peruse file headings in your paper-based filing cabinet. If you have major subheadings for Accounting, Legal, Projects, Marketing, and Executives A, B and C, then transpose these headings into your virtual work space. Further divide these files into even more subcategories. For instance, you can have files for Billing, Receivables, Debits and Credits under the Accounting section.

Sort any unorganized folders and files into a separate folder entitled "Sort." Go through this file once per day, and take a few moments to organize files by type or function. List all of these files alphabetically to find groups of files that may go into a specific section all at once.

Increase efficiency by knowing how to manipulate computer files. Press Ctrl and click to highlight multiple files at once to move them into other digital areas of your computer. Organizing your digital files helps your brain's memory so you can retrieve items faster. Even if you use a keyword search to locate a lost file, you remember what keywords to use because you organized your files in the first place.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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