Fourth in a series on FileMAP®: Filenaming Strategies.
Riding the wave…
It's really hard to visualize the hundreds of tons of paper that I've helped them dig through and discard, the millions of digital files they've deleted or archived, and the millions of hours they've saved in productivity.
But the memories of their satisfied faces — the simple joys of watching them sit down at their newly-organized desk and their new-felt pride of being on top of their work instead of being buried under it — is priceless.
And at the core of the these varied office, cubicle, and storage room solutions is a humble truth. It's not a piece of sexy, high tech equipment or a sophisticated software program, but a simple strategy and skill that anyone can learn: filenaming.
A Shared Strategy
Every company, every department, every work group and each individual will have both shared and unique aspects to their work processes. Project managers track progress of their projects, provide deliverables about their projects, communicate with staff, vendors and upper management about their projects. But not all projects are alike, requiring different staff support, vendors, and reporting requirements. However, to be optimally organized and efficient, smart-thinking companies need to develop and share a shared filenaming strategy for their electronic and paper files.
When you implement a shared filenaming strategy, new hires can easily step into their position and visually understand what their job processes actually require. When one employee is out and a coworker needs to access their files, the needed files are easily accessed. When your boss is standing nervously by your desk when you arrive at 7:30am and wants a copy of a presentation that you created four months ago for his impromptu meeting at 8:00am with the CEO, you access the presentation in 15 seconds or less, print it and hand it to him — with a smile.
In the example to the right, a strategy for naming both folders and files can be seen by clicking on the image. The folder names describe an employee's work processes.
Step 1 – Naming Folders. The highlighted folder, 1 Working, represents the first step in a 3-part process of getting a post prepared for publication on both the website and on Facebook. When the author believes a post is ready to be scheduled, the article is moved to the 2 Scheduled folder, where it is reviewed. Once the article is posted, it is moved to the 3 Posted folder for the current month, and after that, it gets archived. In this case, both the author and the editor not only share the file folder names, but the folders as well, via the network.
Step 2 – Naming Files. The beauty of filenaming is the streamlining and ordering effect it brings to a folder. Multiple folders are not needed if you use a filenaming strategy. In the example shown, the strategy is implemented by the order of the file name elements:
– date: mm/dd is our format of choice for the planned publish date, versus the creation/modified date that the file manager automatically shows.
– series: two series are shown – FileMAP and Product.
– title: If I File It and Drawer Dividers.
– destination: whether the article will be posted on the web (WP) or on Facebook (FB).
– version: our version control in this example is v2. The term final means the author is finished with the article and it is ready to be moved to the 2 Scheduled folder for the editor. For some organizations, version control may not be necessary.
This simple strategy allows With Time To Spare, with just three folders, to write any number of articles, product reviews, kudos, life lessons, quick reads or other post categories and keep them organized and moving toward publication.
The Bottomline: Filenaming best practices
The foundation for a streamlined folder and file organization is not hardware or a fancy piece of software. Using the existing file manager tool in your Windows or Apple system, you can bring order, reduce stress, and increase productivity by implementing a strategy that clearly connects your work processes to your electronic and paper files.
Do you have a strategy for naming your folders and files? Have you created folders based on your work processes? Just remember, if you need help in connecting your work processes to your folder and file naming, contact me by email or call 719-495-7626 and I'll be glad to speak with you!
Related Series Articles
- Post #1 – Introduction: FileMAP®: the secret to streamlined information organization
- Post #2 – Main versus Archive: 80% of what we keep we never use again
- Post #3 – Filenaming strategies: If I file it, can I find it?
- Post #5 – Filenaming strategies: Elusive Email Management