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How to organize your files for better productivity

Taking the time to organize files makes finding and accessing documents painless. Usually, filing is one of the most procrastinated and daunting jobs in the office. It is easy to let it stack up on your desk, floor, credenza and filing cabinets. I find with many of my clients it starts to take over the office. The key to keeping paper clutter under control is to make filing easy and accessible. Files that are overstuffed, complicated and out of reach tend to be avoided. So, the paper piles up on the desk, floor and other surfaces. I always recommend going paperless when possible. Keeping documents electronically saves trees, space and time. However If paper is still very much a part of your life and going digital is not an option, I recommend following these 4 steps:

  1. Categorize – Put your documents and files into categories that make sense to you and others who need to reference them. Depending on your work or job function, some of your categories may be by project. Everyone’s categories will look different depending on their business or job role. At home, the categories, will be similar to the following:
    1. Home Mortgage
    2. Home Services
    3. Home Insurance
    4. Automobiles – A separate folder for each car.
    5. Auto Insurance
    6. Medical – One folder for each member of your family (including pets)
    7. Dental – One folder for each member of your family
    8. Taxes – One folder for each year including the current year to hold donations given throughout the year.
    9. Family members – One file for each family member to collect school information and other important documents.
    10. Bank accounts and financial accounts – Only information that cannot be accessed online should be kept.
    11. Product/Appliance warranties and manuals. – Only information that cannot be accessed online should be kept.
  2. Cleanse – Decide what your can shred or recycle based on your current needs. For information about what to keep you can reference my Document and Record Keeping Guidelines. —Purge your files as you are going through them. Toss what you no longer need as you see it!
  3. Configure your files according to file type. The files you access the most should be kept closest to your chair. Files that are needed less frequently can be stored across the room or down the hall. It may help you to determine what is a Action, Working or Reference file. Action files are tasks that require action, and these files will be located on your desk or in a in box. Usually, they are kept in sight. An example of an Action file is “Bills to Pay”. A Working file should be kept in the drawers accessible from your desk chair. These files are used or accessed frequently. An example of a working file could be projects you are currently working on. Reference files are ones you only need refer to occasionally. An example of a reference file is old tax files or old contracts. If you have a home office, your business files should be kept separate from your personal files. You can separate business and personal files by using two different sides of the same drawer or different drawers in the same cabinet.

How to organize your files for better productivity

Label your folders with the categories you outlined in step one. Make sure each category has a hanging file and manila folder to make them easier to read and access. Remember, the easier you make it to file the more likely you are to file. Use colored files and tabs if this makes it more appealing or easier for you.

4. —Continue – Keep your filing system up to date by purging the items you no longer need on a regular basis. Purge the items you no longer need as they are replaced. For example, you can get rid of old auto and home insurance paperwork when you receive your new policy. (As long as you don’t have any open claims).

———More quick filing tips:

  • —Keep new file folders accessible to your desk. This will make creating new files easier.
  • —Magazine holders are great for grouping publications, brochures, and newsletters by category
  • —Use a step rack for holding your action files.
  • ——Label all of your hanging files and regular files with the same title.

Using this format to organize files gives you an easy to use format to decide what goes where in your workspace. It also makes the items that we use more often more accessible which makes you more productive and efficient. To make this process a little easier and less daunting, start on one file or drawer at time.

Sara Genrich is an office organizing specialist. We can help you set up an efficient filing system and workflow in your office. Please call us for a free consultation at 972-365-0255. —

How to organize your files for better productivityHaving organized digital files will improve your productivity at home and at work. There are three areas that need to be considered when organizing your digital files. The file name, the file folder structure and where the files are saved are all important. Each area is discussed in detail here.

There are a couple things that need to be considered before digital files can be set up. Consider who will access the files. If you are sharing files with a team of people, they all need to understand and agree with how the files are named. Having those agreements will ensure the success of your organizational system. Be consistent with how digital files are organized so that retrieval is streamlined.

File name

File name is unique to each file you save. When determining a name, consider the files you have and your unique needs. Consider how you retrieve the files. What is the subject you will look for? Is it a client name, date or project number? You will want to include this information in the file name. Use short, but descriptive names. Underscores are a good way to keep proper spacing in the file name.

Include three items in the file name in a consistent order:

  1. Date – Keep the format of the date consistent (year, month, day, i.e. 2020-04-21)
  2. Subject – The subject part of the file name will have a few key words that will tell you what to expect when the file is opened (client name or number, project name, or other subject such as “Lectures,” “Contract,” “Invoice”).
  3. Code – A special code or unique identifier in the file name can help understand the file. These codes could include terminology such as draft, template or final, initial or name of author, version, or other information to help the file stand out.

Directory or File location

The directory or file path, should be simple and consistent across files.

How folders are named is an important part of the file name.

Business files may have names such as the client name, project name, project number, author name, administrative, vendor, contractor and/or facility.

Here are examples of how I would label my files for teaching, business and personal:

School

  • Course Number and Name
  • General Course Information
    • Lesson Sheets
    • Lecture Notes
    • Handouts
    • Assignments
    • Laboratories
    • Exams
  • Professional Development and Training
  • Human Resources
  • Department

Business

  • Administrative
  • Client Last Name, Client First Name
    • Contract
    • Receipts
    • Invoices
    • Photos
  • Marketing Contractor
  • Graphic Design Contractor
  • Carpenter Contractor
  • Organizing Contractor, Last Name, First Name
  • Vendors
  • Network

Personal

  • Taxes
  • Medical
  • Utilities
  • Phone
  • Automobile
  • Insurance
  • Kids School
  • Kids Activities
  • Investments
  • Bank
  • Pet
  • Boat

Saving Files

Common Mistakes
  • Saving to your desktop, instead just put a short cut on your desktop.
  • Overcomplicating and over thinking where files get saved and what the name should be. Keep it simple.
  • Avoid confusing abbreviations and acronyms.

Be consistent across all file and folder names. Consider: Google Drive, Box, iCloud, Drop Box, and Email Folders. Pick a method to back up your files. You may select cloud-based storage or an external hard drive. Personal information should be backed up to a removable drive.

Like any organizing project, there are five basic steps to getting your files organized:
  1. Gather: Make a list of all the categories of files you have. Include physical files, digital files, and email files.
  2. Sort: Group them into logical categories. There will likely be main categories and subcategories
  3. Purge: Remove the files that are not needed anymore.
  4. File: Create files for all of the main categories and subcategories. Place files into the folders in chronological order with the newest files toward the front. When a new file comes in, it is front and center.
  5. Label: Label the folders. Keep labels consistent across paper files, digital files and email files.
Too Overwhelming?

Start from ground zero if you are truly a hot mess. Set up an organized file structure and begin organizing the files that are current. Don’t worry about old files right now. Take some time to work out the bugs of your new file structure. Once you are settled into a routine and your file system has proved to be effective, go back and organize your older files.

At Top Shelf, we love to help busy professionals and families establish an effective filing system to improve productivity and reduce stress. See how we can help you get this area of your busy life organized. Reach out to Jayme for some tips on getting your files organized.

The start of the year is a great time to start implementing small organization changes that can yield big benefits for your productivity for the rest of the year. Today I wanted to talk to you about organizing your computer for maximum productivity, which if you are anything like me, is sort of a dreaded topic! I live on my computer, so it is filled to the brim with articles, images and information. I use my computer to create a vast majority of my content, and of course, it’s the key to running my online business, so it really is important that I keep my computer files organized, my hard drive free of superfluous information and my desktop clean and neat!

Step 1: Create a virtual filing system

Without some sort of virtual filing system set up on your computer, it can be a pain to locate files in a timely manner. Although most computers come with default files like “Documents” and “Photos” its usually up to the individual to implement a system for filing away items for later reference. What I like to do is create folders within these sort of catch-all files, dividing my items up by categories or projects. I typically use category files like “Picture of Me,” “Online Receipts” or “Youtube Music” to corral items that are similar in nature, but perhaps don’t belong to a larger set. Once I have a handful or more items that belong in a specific set, I usually create folders with event or project titles. For example within my Pictures folder, I may keep Pictures of Me, but I may also have a folder called “Christmas 2015”, or within my documents, along side Online Receipts you may find a Strange & Charmed Project File where I keep all my info related to my brand. Within category files, I usually don’t bother with too much additional organization, other than to give my information descriptive titles for easier location, but within a project or event folder, there is often a handful of other sub folders. For example my Strange & Charmed Project File contains a sub folder for my blog post articles, my business information and image templates among other things. The idea is, no matter what your situation, whether you are a business owner like me, a student or even a stay at home mom, you want to create a filing system that make sense to you. Don’t be afraid to lay some ground rules for your system and type them up in a document to refer back to, in fact, that’s an excellent way to help you manage your system in an ongoing fashion!

So once you have settled on a filing system for your items, of course, you are going to want to go ahead and redistribute your files into their appropriate folders in the system! This can be a large project in and of itself, so don’t be afraid to set up the folder system one day, and return another day to work on distributing your information to their proper home. As you do this, now is the perfect time to also rename files with descriptive titles so that you can easily locate them in the future through the search function on your computer.

Step 2: Remove unnecessary information

Another major process you will want to undergo to organize your computer is to remove all the junk from your computer. Whether it be duplicate files or pictures, old documents you no longer need, or even outdated applications that you no longer use, spend some time locating any files that can be deleted entirely from your computer!

Step 3: Archive old information to save

Of course, you will also come across information that may be old or necessary, but for one reason or another you need to keep it. If it’s not something you need to refer to regularly, I suggest moving these sorts of files to an external hard drive for archiving and backup! Make sure to set your external hard drive up with a filing system of its own that makes sense for the information you are storing there, so you can easily find any archived files if and when the time comes.

Step 4: Run key Diagnostics

Depending on your computer’s operating system, there are a number of diagnostic tools you can use to help you ensure that you computer is running in top shape. First and foremost, I like to use an inventory style program like Disk Inventory X to help me understand what sort of information is taking up my hard drive. Computers can often easily begin to fill with bloat and most systems have a maze of hidden files and folders that you may not be aware of. Now, I don’t think you should go and delete files that you aren’t aware of, however, using a program like Disk Inventory X can help you see how the majority of your hard drive is being spent. Perhaps you didn’t realize that the game you downloaded two years ago and barely run was using so much hard drive space. Insights like that can help you make better decisions about what to keep and what to remove from your computer. Another popular diagnostic tool is a disk defray. PC’s are famous for the defrag, which basically helps to organize the information stored on your hard drive by compartmentalized it. Imagine your computers hard drive is like a storage facility with tons of individual units. When you save information to your computer, its like filling up units randomly in no particular order, so you can have some units in the back filled and some in the front and a few in the middle. When you defray your computer, you actually force those storage units together so that there is no empty space between empty and filled units, which helps you utilize space in your hard drive most efficiently! Like I said, PCs are known for needing to be defrayed regularly, however, Mac’s don’t actually require this, so do a little research on the best diagnostics to run for your computer and operating system and figure out what is worth your time, effort, and sometimes money, in order to keep your computer running the best!

Step 5: Perform weekly maintenance to ensure upkeep of your system

If you are like me and use your computer regularly, chances are you are going to need to continually tweak your system and keep an eye on your computers organization. As much as I try to always file my items into their proper spot in my own system, sometimes I forget or if I am in a rush, I skip that step. So, it’s important to schedule some time on a weekly basis (or more or less frequently depending on how messy your desktop and files get) to tidy up and put things back in place. Of course, you will also want to revisit steps 2-4 on a regular basis as well, although, perhaps on a less frequent basis, although that is completely up to you.

I hope these tips help you to get your computer organized so that you can achieve more with your screen time! If you have any other computer organization tips, I’d love to hear them!

Real estate professionals know that finely-tuned communication skills and a keen ability to negotiate are critical characteristics for top producers. However, the most successful real estate professionals also understand that an ability to be consistently well organized is a vital secret to their success.

Consistency with document and task organization means that agents will have critical client information readily available and that office admin can more easily support closing transactions. When transaction data is well organized and easily accessible, agents can provide better customer service, admin can ensure that deals can close smoothly and on time, and brokers know that official records on the right side of state real estate regulations. Most importantly, effective organization fuels agent productivity by reducing wasted time and frustration.

Despite the benefits of a well-organized process, the paperwork-heavy nature of real estate makes consistency a primary challenge for many offices. It’s especially tricky considering the on-the-go nature of working with clients and properties. Many real estate professionals find it challenging to devote time toward administrative tasks such as organizing and implementing effective filing systems.

The good news is that this struggle doesn’t mean that staying organized is an exercise in futility.

1. Use a Single System of Record

Required documents and related tasks often exist across a patchwork of online platforms, mobile apps, and paper files. This disorganization tends to become even more chaotic when working alongside another brokerage to close on a transaction and creates a slew of risks and headaches.

Disjointed and siloed files make it harder to deliver seamless, intuitive client service. It also makes it more challenging to track all of the deliverables associated with closing a transaction and ensure that all of the requirements get completed on time. Lastly, in the event of an audit, you’ll have to scramble to pull all of your files from different sources and devices (if you can remember where everything even is).

The easiest and most important way to get and stay organized is to employ end-to-end real estate transaction management software that is capable of unifying all these disjointed pieces and systems into a single record. For example, instead of cataloging all of your documents related to a file within an Excel spreadsheet – but then storing the actual files elsewhere – look for a solution that allows you to upload documents, contact data, notes, and other critical pieces of data so that everything needed to close on the transaction exists in one place. It’s also essential to look for a solution that includes unlimited storage because, over time, costs to store your organized files can grow.

2. Use Checklists and Other Tools to Track Files Closely

Throughout every real estate transaction, countless documents must be created, signed, collected, and reviewed. Those documents are just a part of the specific requirements for each transaction. The type of property, location, and sale dictate the specific documents and tasks that change from one sale to another. These specific requirements make it difficult to determine at a glance whether you have everything you need for a particular transaction.

Instead of using preset checklists, or no checklist at all, successful real estate brokers and teams develop custom lists of specifications for each type of transaction that agents represent and that admin support. Custom real estate checklists are often the most precise and effective way to ensure your files stay up-to-date and organized throughout the transaction closing process. As you receive each document and complete each task, a custom checklist of action items makes it easy to see completed and incomplete tasks quickly.

You can further improve your company’s ability to keep your files organized and on-schedule with a system that allows you to assign tasks to others in your office. Take it a step further and choose a real estate transaction management system that will help manage file compliance by automatically alerting you to missing documents on any transaction.

3. Use Tools that Fit Your Brokers’ and Agents’ Workflow

As helpful as perfect organization can be for a real estate company, it’s easy to see why busy brokers and admin struggle to organize files. The nature of real estate requires agents to be out of the office, but the required paperwork usually has to be filed back at their desks or in the office by admin. This disconnect often lends itself to a haphazard way of managing tasks, notes, and documents. Worse, it makes it easy for professionals to procrastinate and generate piles of disorganized paperwork that quickly grow and become unwieldy.

One easy way to reduce this backlog is by employing a transaction management system that allows employees to deal with paperwork at any time and from anywhere – meaning documents can be uploaded and attached to files conveniently and as they are received. As one example, Paperless Pipeline helps ensure proper organization from anywhere with features that allow users to upload documents to a digital folder by email from any computer or device.

Want to learn more? Book a demo to see how Paperless Pipeline can improve the workflow at your office, and let us help you create checklists that to close more deals and delight more clients!

Try Paperless Pipeline with a 100% free trial today and see how simple it is to organize your brokerage’s files and keep your agents selling and your clients happy. Want to learn more? Book a live demo to see how Paperless Pipeline can improve the workflow at your office, and let us help you create checklists that to close more deals and delight more clients!

I am sure you know what a hassle it can be to find a certain file for a project you worked on 6 months ago. And you need it now.

Also, you are probably aware of the hassle that is trying to come up with different, yet recognizable, file names for similar things. So you probably end up naming them “wcds” or something similar, especially if you don’t feel like spending extra time on coming up with a file name. All in all, organizing and managing so many files probably seems like a mission impossible.

If don’t have the willpower to go through all those files and properly name and store each and every one of them. Well, we have some bad news for you.

You are wasting your time and your productivity every time you are trying to find a file, but don’t remember where you put it and how you named it. This is even worse if you are at work and your boss wants that file now. Instead of knowing where everything is, you click on one file, and then another one in hopes it will be the right one.

Because of this, we would recommend you spend some time organizing your files, even if it may be tedious. It will make everything easier later.

There are different ways you can organize your files. They can be project-based (every project has its own file), date-based (make a file for each year with sub-files for each month), or file type-based (this means you name your files based on what type of file it is, such as financials, marketing, client, etc.). You choose which one fits your needs the best.

How to organize your files for better productivity

Here are some basic tips for becoming more organized when it comes to files:

  • Don’t save files on your desktop. Even if it seems easier, if you keep doing it, it will become harder to find what you need.
  • Create a root folder where you will keep all of your files. That way you will know where they all are, you just have to find them inside the main folder.
  • Put folders inside folders. Even if you have the main document for all your files, you will probably still need to organize them based on larger groups or projects.
  • Name your files in a clear and simple way but make it descriptive enough so you know what the files are for. Don’t use abbreviations or obscure names. Name the files the same as the project you are working on.
  • Save everything and organize it as you go. Don’t leave organizing for some later time. By then you could forget all the files you created and where you put them.
  • Backup your files often so you don’t lose them.
  • Check and sort your files once a week so you make sure everything is where it needs to be.

However, luckily for all of us, there are some tools that can help mange and organize files the right way. So let’s get to know the best ones!

1. Brandox

How to organize your files for better productivity

Brandox is a file organizing tool that organizes your files on a visual platform. It is easy to use and it is best suited for graphic design and marketing teams that want to organize and share their files. You can share files regardless of their size or image quality and can control file access rights for better security and easier collaboration.

Brandox has been designed to be intuitive with a great-looking visual design and layout. It organizes your assets and files into sections and subsections. And it also has a search function and filters so you can find what you need quicker.

To add files, just drag and drop them into a designated area for file uploads. There is no need to convert them as you can add and share any file format, as well as add more than just one file at a time.

Lastly, there is a section where you can add a short description of the file, which can help achieve easier collaboration. You can make these files private and add a password, and you can decide which users have editing abilities.

There are three payment plans offered by Brandox. The cheapest is $59 for one workspace and 10 brand accounts, then you have a plan for $118 for 2 workspaces and 10 brand accounts per workspace, and a plan for $177 for 3 workspaces and 10 brand accounts per workspace.

2. Frontify

How to organize your files for better productivity

Frontify is a brand management platform that keeps everything saved in cloud storage. With it, you can automatize processes, enable access to different users, unify different cross-functional teams, and produce digital or print material.

It comes with a digital asset management application which helps manage your files. Also, you can search for your files by keywords or attributes for faster finding.

What makes this tool great is that you can request a demo so you can familiarize yourself with it before you decide if you really need it and if it offers what you want.

3. Brandfolder

How to organize your files for better productivity

Brandfolder is another file management tool that is very intuitive to use. It is also cloud-based so you can be sure that everything is safely stored. It can be integrated with a lot of other applications, such as Adobe Creative Suite, Canva, Gmail, Drupal, Google Analytics, HubSpot, and more.

You can upload files in bulk using a drag and drop functionality, give out access to different users for better collaboration, easily search for different files, and sort them in an organized way. You can distribute and share your brand assets to everyone, and it is really easy to host, find, update, and share your assets.

When it comes to pricing, there are different payment plans and before you buy one, you can schedule a demo to see if this is what you really need.

Conclusion

Organizing your files might take some time, but it will be useful later. Besides just following basic rules for organizing your files, you can use one of the three tools we mentioned since they are all intended for file management.

Trust us, these can help the whole process and make it easier.

5 Tips to Design an Office That Helps You Work Efficiently and Effectively

How to organize your files for better productivity

Research presented at the American Psychological Association suggests that a messy desk is a sign of creativity, and doesn’t necessarily impact productivity. On the other hand, for some, messiness on the outside is representative of what’s going on on the inside. The truth is organization isn’t about neat piles and a label for everything. It’s about setting up your office in a way that allows for productivity and doesn’t hinder work, whether that means a messy or clean desk.

Here are five tips for organizing your home office to maximize productivity.

1. Manage Clutter Desk and Office

Note that you don’t have to avoid clutter completely. Messiness can actually be stimulating for some workers. At the same time, you want some organization to the clutter to avoid wasting time looking for the materials you need.

If you are oriented towards clutter, find a way to make it work for you. For example, have paper piles with a purpose. Instead of multiple piles of various items, have one pile for bills, another for invoices, and another for reading, etc. They’re still piled and a bit messy, but now you at least know which pile to start with if you’re looking for a specific type of paper.

If clutter impacts your energy and productivity, you’ll need to do more to create a clean looking space. If paper is getting in the way, switch over to paperless systems for filing. Keep a file sorter at or near your desk to get paper out of the way quickly, even if you can’t file it officially.

While paper is a big source of clutter, it’s not the only one. Pens, paperclips, thumb drives, books, calculator and more can take up space in your work area. Once a week or so, cull these items (i.e. get rid of dried-out pens) and put them in a place you can easily access them. Use containers such as pen cups and paperclip holders to contain items.

Note that clutter doesn’t just crowd your desk, but can create chaos in other areas of the office if allow it. Other places to manage clutter include bookcases, items hanging on the wall, chairs, and the floor.

2. Keep Needed Items Close By

Searching for work materials or having to get up to get something wastes time. If there’s something you need to use frequently, keep it within reaching distance to where you work. This may include a phone, reference books, planner, files, mailing supplies, printer, etc.

If you have many items you need frequent access to, you might need a bigger desk. Or you can have a desk layout, such as a U-shaped set up with a desk or a desk and tables so you simply need to swivel around to get what you need.

Anything that you don’t use on a daily basis or several times a week doesn’t need to be on your desk or near your work area. You can store those items in other areas of your office.

3. Be Comfortable

Nothing can negatively impact productivity more than discomfort. If your back hurts or you have eye strain, you won’t want to work. A quality chair and well-lit office are crucial to your comfort and health.

Ideally, your office should have natural light, but also adequate artificial light to avoid eye strain when it’s dark out. Adjust your chair or computer monitor so you’re looking straight ahead, not up or down, to avoid neck and back issues.

Because sitting so long can be detrimental to your health, consider getting a standing desk, or an adjustable shelf for your monitor so you can sit or stand.

4. Have a Routine and Schedule But Change Them Sometimes

Routines become habits that allow you to move through actions without having to put a lot of thought into it. Schedules ensure you’re getting things done on time. These time management strategies help with focus and productivity. For example, I work through the same items in the same order first thing in a morning routine. I don’t have to think about it, I just do them.

The problem with routines and schedules is that they can become ruts and stifle creativity. When your routine and schedule start to make you feel sluggish or uninspired, change them up.

5. Surround Yourself With What Delights or Inspires You

You’ve left a drab cubicle to run your own home business, giving you the opportunity to set up your home office the way that works best for you. Now there are no rules about whether or not you can have personal pictures or a plant on your desk. In fact, you can maximize your energy and productivity by decorating your office in a way that brings you joy or inspiration.

Consider painting your office in a color you like. Hang pictures or posters that inspire or motivate you. Use decorative office tools and supplies, such as colorful files. Surround yourself with items that inspire you. If you like the beach, have a shelf with a beach setting that includes a mini-palm tree, a coconut cup, and shells.

Productivity and motivation don’t just have to come from sheer will. You can encourage and inspire it through your surroundings. To maximize your home business success, purposefully organize and decorate your office in a way that helps you be your best.

As an administrative professional, you understand just how much structure and organization comes into play on a daily basis. You probably have multiple systems and procedures that allow you to create order and inspire productivity. But with so many people and processes to manage, even the best of us can get overwhelmed when we look at our files, binders, and calendars.

One of the easiest ways to add structure and organization to your workspace, files, and more is to use color-coding. According to research by neuroscientists, our brains are hard-wired to process color before virtually anything else, improving comprehension and helping us process information more quickly, as well as retaining it longer.

Color coding typically applies more to paper files than digital files. However, many programs and task management tools allow you to add category colors so you can carry them over to your digital file management. And there are third-party software addons for Windows that let you add color to your digital folders, too.

Developing Your Color Code

When creating a color code, I start by evaluating the environment I’m working in.

  1. Are there colors already associated with specific categories of work, departments, or projects? If so, then try to incorporate that into your color code to reduce confusion for you and those you work with.
  2. What are your categories of work or types of projects? For example, when I worked corporately, I had a separate color assigned to each executive I supported, a color for my admin projects, legal contracts, business development projects, operations files, etc. Sometimes I had a separate color for each major project if there were a lot of them going on at the same time.

Depending on how many colors and categories you create, it may be helpful to you (and those you support) to create a color-code key. That way everyone knows the system, and you have a better chance of maintaining it.

Tools for Color Coding

There are dozens of fantastic options available to help you implement your color code – everything from files to labels to binders and more! Some of my favorite tools include:

If you don’t have the budget or approval to use colored file folders, you can still use color on your labels or apply colored stickers to make them more visual. Color can make a world of difference in quickly finding things or identifying when something is misplaced.

Implementing Your Color Code

Once you have the tools you need, you can transition files into their appropriate file color and get them labeled. Teach those you work with how to use the new system so they understand how it works and why it’s important. As you use your system, you’ll identify ways you need to fine tune it or add to it as you go.

Applying Color Codes to Calendars, Tasks, and Email

I mentioned color coding your paper files and coordinating it with your digital systems. This is one way I do that with Outlook Tasks, Calendar, and Categories.

In Microsoft Outlook, you can setup categories and associate a color with each one. Then you can use this to color code tasks, emails, and calendar appointments.

How to organize your files for better productivity

This is my standard color code:

  • Red – speaking engagements
  • Orange – clients or vendors
  • Yellow – training
  • Bright Green – team related
  • Standard Green – finance / accounting
  • Blue – business development
  • Teal – administrative
  • Purple – article/book writing

At a glance, I can quickly see (even if I can’t read all of the details) how many speaking engagements, client calls, and team meetings I have each week because of the colors I use on my calendar.

Our Teamwork project management tool allows us to color code projects and events we have on the calendar, too. So no matter where I look, red means it’s speaking related, yellow is for training, green is for team meetings, and so on.

We all want to be more organized. Color coding allows us to find what we need faster and easily identify where everything belongs. It makes planning easier, since we can see at a glance what categories demand our time. And when the rest of the team gets on board, too, it makes the entire office run more smoothly by keeping everyone on the same color-coded page!

Some of the links featured in our emails and blog posts are sponsored links and All Things Admin may receive compensation for them. We only recommend products and resources that we use in our professional lives and building our business. We hope you will find them beneficial, too.

HOW TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER OR WEBSITE

Want to use this article in your newsletter, ezine or website? You can — just as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.

How to organize your files for better productivity

Do you dump files on your desktop when you download things? Is your Documents folder willed with all sorts of files? Is your music all over the place? If yes and you’re a freelancer, then you really should organize files and folders on your computer to improve your productivity. Read on to find out what you can do.

Why You Should Organize Your Files

If you’re a freelancer working from home and a parent, then freeing up time is a constant battle. Your work needs you and your child needs you, so you really need to find that work-family balance. As a freelancer, you don’t need to sit in an office for eight hours a day and the time you spend working is really up to you. What I mean is that you’ll have a lot more time for your children and other stuff if you work more productively. And a disorganized computer keeps you from maximizing your productivity.

Imagine that you live in a house where things are all over the place. Say, one of your socks is on the windowsill and its pair is in a drawer. Your jeans are in the washing machine and your jacket is at the neighbour’s. You get the idea and I’m sure it sounds just as terrible to you as it does to me. You wouldn’t keep your house that way. But we all do that to our computers. So, here are my tips that will help you organize your digital stuff.

How I Organize Files and Folders on My Mac

After trying different filing methods, I’ve settled for organizing my folders by subject and then by date. By the way, I keep all my work files in Dropbox for easy access from anywhere and for backup and version history purposes. I also encrypt important files to be on the safe side.

In my Dropbox folder, I have a “Clients” folder where I have subfolders with client names. In these subfolders, I either organize more subfolders by date (year – month) or by task types. This lets me easily find everything I need.

I also have a folder called “Articles” where I have subfolders for Constant Content and other websites where I sell articles. Like my “Clients” folder, this folder has year – month subfolders for easy file management.

How I Organize Photos and Videos

Well, to be honest, it’s the same system although I group photos by event, place and then by date. For example, I have a subfolder called “Travel” in my Pictures folder and there I have subfolders for each country I visited. Then there are subfolders labeled by date and sometimes there are subfolders for particular cities (San Francisco and Tel Aviv earned their own subfolders).

Organized? Now Delete Duplicate Files

OK, now that you found a system to organize files and folders and you stick to that system, it’s time to get rid of the junk. By junk I mean duplicate files. We all have them, so no need to pretend that you don’t need to deal with them. In theory, you could try to find and delete duplicates without any software. But that’s ineffective and stupid because you’d spend hours looking for file copies and you’ll definitely delete something you need by accident. So, it’s best to use a duplicate file finder. Here are some options for PC and Mac:

  • Easy Duplicate Finder – a really powerful and intuitive app for both Windows and Mac. Lots of options, scan modes, and perfect accuracy. It has a Folder Comparison mode too, which is perfect if you want to merge folders and keep only original files.
  • Gemini – a nice and easy to use Mac duplicate finder
  • Auslogics Duplicate File Finder – a basic free duplicate finder for Windows
  • Duplicate Photo Cleaner – my favourite program for finding duplicate photos and managing similar images. It’s full of options and is very easy to use too. Available for Windows and Mac.
  • CCleaner – this popular Windows and Mac cleanup tool has a very basic duplicate finder. Be careful with it, though, because it can only compare file names (not file content like the apps above)

I really recommend that you run a duplicate finder on a regular basis. You’ll be amazed how much space you can recover by simply deleting file copies you don’t need.

Keep Things Organized

And last but not least, once you’ve organized files and folders on your computer, try to keep things that way and don’t start dumping files on your desktop again!

If you’re looking for more productivity tips and fantastic productivity apps, check out this post I wrote for my copywriting blog.

How do you organize files and folders on your computer? Let us know in your comments!

As an administrative professional, you understand just how much structure and organization comes into play on a daily basis. You probably have multiple systems and procedures that allow you to create order and inspire productivity. But with so many people and processes to manage, even the best of us can get overwhelmed when we look at our files, binders, and calendars.

One of the easiest ways to add structure and organization to your workspace, files, and more is to use color-coding. According to research by neuroscientists, our brains are hard-wired to process color before virtually anything else, improving comprehension and helping us process information more quickly, as well as retaining it longer.

Color coding typically applies more to paper files than digital files. However, many programs and task management tools allow you to add category colors so you can carry them over to your digital file management. And there are third-party software addons for Windows that let you add color to your digital folders, too.

Developing Your Color Code

When creating a color code, I start by evaluating the environment I’m working in.

  1. Are there colors already associated with specific categories of work, departments, or projects? If so, then try to incorporate that into your color code to reduce confusion for you and those you work with.
  2. What are your categories of work or types of projects? For example, when I worked corporately, I had a separate color assigned to each executive I supported, a color for my admin projects, legal contracts, business development projects, operations files, etc. Sometimes I had a separate color for each major project if there were a lot of them going on at the same time.

Depending on how many colors and categories you create, it may be helpful to you (and those you support) to create a color-code key. That way everyone knows the system, and you have a better chance of maintaining it.

Tools for Color Coding

There are dozens of fantastic options available to help you implement your color code – everything from files to labels to binders and more! Some of my favorite tools include:

If you don’t have the budget or approval to use colored file folders, you can still use color on your labels or apply colored stickers to make them more visual. Color can make a world of difference in quickly finding things or identifying when something is misplaced.

Implementing Your Color Code

Once you have the tools you need, you can transition files into their appropriate file color and get them labeled. Teach those you work with how to use the new system so they understand how it works and why it’s important. As you use your system, you’ll identify ways you need to fine tune it or add to it as you go.

Applying Color Codes to Calendars, Tasks, and Email

I mentioned color coding your paper files and coordinating it with your digital systems. This is one way I do that with Outlook Tasks, Calendar, and Categories.

In Microsoft Outlook, you can setup categories and associate a color with each one. Then you can use this to color code tasks, emails, and calendar appointments.

How to organize your files for better productivity

This is my standard color code:

  • Red – speaking engagements
  • Orange – clients or vendors
  • Yellow – training
  • Bright Green – team related
  • Standard Green – finance / accounting
  • Blue – business development
  • Teal – administrative
  • Purple – article/book writing

At a glance, I can quickly see (even if I can’t read all of the details) how many speaking engagements, client calls, and team meetings I have each week because of the colors I use on my calendar.

Our Teamwork project management tool allows us to color code projects and events we have on the calendar, too. So no matter where I look, red means it’s speaking related, yellow is for training, green is for team meetings, and so on.

We all want to be more organized. Color coding allows us to find what we need faster and easily identify where everything belongs. It makes planning easier, since we can see at a glance what categories demand our time. And when the rest of the team gets on board, too, it makes the entire office run more smoothly by keeping everyone on the same color-coded page!

Some of the links featured in our emails and blog posts are sponsored links and All Things Admin may receive compensation for them. We only recommend products and resources that we use in our professional lives and building our business. We hope you will find them beneficial, too.

HOW TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER OR WEBSITE

Want to use this article in your newsletter, ezine or website? You can — just as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.