Organize your computer, organize your photography…

I know it’s here, somewhere!

I really don’ t know who said that once we started working working with computers our work would be much easier. Harumph! Definitely not so! It seems as though using these “efficiency machines” does nothing else but create more work. You have to organize things before you put them in your computer (who out there does this, really?) If you are one of those… congratulations. If you are like me and probably 90% of the people who use these things, you only start to organize about two years AFTER you put stuff in your computer. If that is you, then it is time to take a day and create a worksheet to put your computer in order. Once you have a plan in place, you need to work it. It takes a great deal of intestinal fortitude to stick to the plan to organize your computer, organize your photography.

Even if it is just once a day, for an hour or so, you need to work it. The more you stick to it the more you will get done in a seemingly short amount of time. It has been said that the more you repeat an activity, the more likely you are to complete tasks. Repetition creates completion!

Here are some ideas and tips that are a clue that you need to get that organization thing going :
• Your Desktop has over 40 icons on it
• “My Documents” contains over 300 files and 60 folders, including MP3s and digital photos
• You use the Windows’ built-in search facility whenever you need to find a file
• You can’t find programs in the out-of-control list of programs in your Start Menu
• You save all your Word documents in one folder, all your spreadsheets in a second folder, etc
• Any given file that you’re looking for may be in any one of four different sets of folders

Sound familiar? If so, it is time to roll up your sleeves and grab another cuppa! Here are my top five tips for organizing:

Tip #1. Start now, don’t put it off any longer
“This sounds complicated. I’ll do it later”. Don’t let that thought creep in, or you may as well not read the rest of this article. This is more of a “no excuses” tip than a technical idea, but like a lot of things, very little skill is needed to actually be organized and efficient. The biggest resource is time, but even that isn’t required. Instead of telling yourself “I’ll get to this later“, just quickly do it right there and then.

Tip #2. Use folders, please!
Don’t mistake this with for putting all your files in one folder… or even all your folders in one folder… or worse, the desktop. Don’t relegate all your files and folders to a Subfolder Jungle, where you will be spending a great deal of time sorting through “garbage.”. But you do need a place where you know that you can access your files and folders there. The My Documents folder is the logical and perfect place for this — but again, this isn’t a place for stuffing all your files, this is a home for your folders, which contain your files.

Tip #3. Naming files and folders, please be brief!
Another thing that is important to consider when you’re organizing your files is to be as brief as possible, but also as detailed as possible. For many cases, you might be the only one using the folders or files, but if you do decide to share something with someone, either on a personal or professional basis, you want it to be clear to them, as well as to you. You don’t want to have to think about what you were trying to describe in a folder title. Don’t name a folder “photography,” especially if you have sub-folders in that folder. Your naming convention should be clear enough as to be easily understood by others.

Tip #4. Access files and folders quickly.
Like I was mentioning previously about making sure your files aren’t hidden deep in the Subfolder Jungle, there are other things you can do to make your files easily accessible. Besides the obvious of being able to find a file quickly, it also plays a huge role in maintaining your file management status. In other words, it’s essential that you can quickly and easily save a new file to its correct spot on your computer.

Tip #5. Be consistent and efficient.
This is one of the most important things to do. Once you start the process, you must continue it diligently otherwise it’s all for nothing and you will end up with a semi-disorganized file-system. That’s not only non-productive, but it also reminds you that you never finished.

The key to this is to be prompt. The moment you need to save or create a file, you put it in the right spot and if there isn’t a spot for it yet, create one. Whether you do this in the cloud or locally, you need to remember all of the previous tips such as being brief, but detailed, refraining from making duplicates, and paying attention to folder hierarchy by organizing what makes sense, but not overdoing it by adding too many folders.

The above tips are just a simplification of the process. you can Google the topic and find much more detailed information. Please remember, however, that the most important thing is to simply start. Don’t wait until you “have more time” — you’ll never have more time. Although right now may not be the best time to do a complete overhaul of all your files, you can still start making some folders and slowly start adding your new files that you save on your computer, whether they’re from downloading or creating. Time will allow you to then expand and focus more on your other files and getting them in order.

Are you ready?

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Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson


Tim Anderson is a writer/artist/photographer. You can help support his creative efforts by joining Medium: