Seven tips for organizing digital documents.

From the home to the office, digital clutter can be a messy, inefficient reality. Explore how to keep your devices lean, clean, sharp, and functional. 

A person organizing digital documents on their smartphone and laptop

Get your digital life together.

 

Phones, tablets, computers, and TVs take up an enormous percentage of the average person’s time, especially as digitized and remote work links everyone to more than just entertainment. The average adult spends around 17 hours looking at a screen per day, according to research by Study Finds. Digital devices connect you to your world, your work, and everything in between.

 

Because they are so important and used so often, digital detritus can pile up, slowing down your device and your workflow. Keeping your device organized can be a stress-reducing time-saver. Here are seven tips for keeping your digital files in order.

 

 

1.

 

Make decluttering part of your routine. If you’ve had your device for over a year, you’ve almost certainly accumulated some clutter — old unused files, downloads, cookies, and other unnecessary data. Take time for regular reorganization. Cleaning your files can go a long way in keeping your devices and organization systems usable.

 

When you’re decluttering your home documents or work-related files, ask yourself these questions about what to keep and what to trash:

  • Is this a duplicate file? 

  • Have I opened this file in the last year?

  • Is there a newer or updated version of this file?

  • Is this file corrupted or incompatible with my current software?

With sentimental documents, such as pictures, it can be harder to make these decisions. This is where investing in a flash drive or external hard drive — or even cloud storage — can come in handy. That way, you can keep your old, personal files easily accessible, without taking up storage space on your device. 

 

 

2.

 

Name files clearly. A clear naming scheme makes files easier to locate and helps you know what exactly you have on a hard drive.

 

Be consistent and logical when you choose a naming convention. Including dates in file names can help keep everything ordered chronologically. The important thing to remember is that the naming convention must be uniform. Once you start one scheme, make sure you stick to it.

 

 

3.

 

Standardize your document types. Changes in software or operating system on your devices can create compatibility issues with files. For example, switching from Windows to Mac OS can change how your files appear when you try to access them and cause formatting issues. By standardizing or converting your file types after an update like this, you can ensure they’re optimized going forward.

 

Converting your files can also help you save space. Converting a PowerPoint to a PDF can reduce the file size by compressing animations or transitions, preserving the essential content while saving on valuable storage space.  

Example of standardizing digital document types with Adobe Acrobat

4.

 

Merge documents strategically. Many documents are important to keep as part of a larger set of data, but you’ll never access them individually. Merging several documents into one can help keep important files together. For instance, tax documents from different years can be merged into one PDF file. This ensures these documents are always together, saving you space as they make searching for them easier.

 

 

5.

 

Use folder nesting systems. Folder nesting systems group similar files together and create subgroups that make searching for files much easier.

 

For example, say you own a bakery that makes cupcakes, cookies, pies, and cakes. You can create a high-level folder for each type of baked good, and then store things like recipes, ingredient costs, vendors, price sheets, and marketing material in separate sub folders. This creates a nest system where you can intuitively navigate between the different types of tasty treats without having to go through each file individually. 

 

 

6.

 

Zip it up with zip folders. A zip folder, or zip file, is a way of making a file smaller by getting rid of certain types of redundant information. Compressed zip files are small and easy to store and share. They’re also easy to uncompress. Unzipping a file usually just takes a click or two.

       

You can also compress documents converted to PDF individually, making them easier to store, upload, and share. This bypasses the need for zipping and unzipping files to access specific docs.

A person standing in front of a computer reviewing digital documents

7.

 

Invest in file organizing software. If you’re not interested in manually organizing your device’s files, you can invest in file organizing software. File organizing software applies tags to file types, which automatically groups them in nesting systems. This software can help you stay consistent with naming conventions and organizational schemes with little manual effort

 

Staying organized is the key to unlocking the full potential of your device and productivity. Whether you’re working from home or on the road — or simply want your device to work better — these tools and tips can help you maintain your important files in an efficient and accessible way.  

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