How should I organise my online files?


If you are a frequent reader of my blogs you’ll (hopefully) know that I appreciate organisation, efficiency and reduced duplication.

I am going to focus on the way that you set up and run your systems and processes in a non-negotiable way in this post, to ensure that any work that you do do in getting your ship into shape, isn’t wasted. And I am going to use the example of sorting out your online files.

Make a plan

Whatever task you are undertaking, have a quick think about the way that you work before cracking on and deleting and filing things. And ask for the input of your team, if relevant. Let’s use the example of your online files, so that yourself, the team and newbies to your business can understand where to quickly find things.

Think about:

1. The way that you search for things currently and what is frustrating about that.

2. The repetitive documents and processes that you make time and time again internally or for clients.

3. Reducing the amount of pathways that you use to get to the documents.

4. Making sure that folder names make sense to everyone and new people / freelancers dipping into the business – try to avoid shorthand or acronyms.

5. Being able to duplicate folder and document names across different clients / categories to make it simple to find documents.

You don’t have to write the plan down, but a quick sketch of the pathway may make things make a bit more sense upfront before any time and work is wasted. Like this example:

Be ruthless

If you are asking an if or a but, don’t be tempted to put it into a ‘I’ll sort that out later’ file. Be ruthless and make a decision. And don’t make an ‘Other’ folder either! One of the hardest things about sorting systems out retrospectively is that there will always be something that doesn’t fit.

And dare I say it, delete. Yes delete. If you really know that it is not necessary to keep something, delete it. In your privacy policy you should now have information regarding how long you will keep a hold on client data and information. If you need to, make a list of clients to contact, let them know that you will be deleting their data and files and that you will WeTransfer it to them if they’d like.

Obviously keep a hold on anything that you need for marketing, finance or internal reference. GDPR has become a systematic way of making sure that you keep on top of your filing!

Ask for advice

Don’t feel like you need to do this all on your own. Your team or an outsider may have a great second opinion or what does and doesn’t make sense. Generally I would always advise asking for a second opinion on things! The bonus being that they see things that you don’t see and will be able to see things like a newbie to your business may see, essential for any growing business who is likely to have people coming on board along the way, even just intermittently.

If it only takes 2 minutes…JUST DO IT!

It’s really simple and kinda…non-negotiable to me. But I NEVER just put documents aside and say that I’ll deal with that later. Especially not online files where you have to open it up to check what it is, and then it just becomes a nightmare of piled up filing on your desktop and you can never find anything. You get me?

If it will only take you 2 minutes – or probably less – just save it in the right place first time. And make this non-negotiable, for yourself and for your staff and those that work on your business with you. Time is short, don’t waste it trying to find things.

If you want to chat it through, get in touch to arrange a call. I can sort most issues out in about 15 minutes and it may not be as big an issue as you think. Look forward to hearing from you!


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