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8 Creative File Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity

Misplaced and lost files in your business will cost you money; that’s why you should learn a few file organization ideas that’ll also boost your productivity. The discipline forces, especially the military, teach this lesson.

You are probably familiar with US Navy Admiral William H. McRaven's speech, "If you want to change the world, start by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed..."

Simply put, doing simple things like making your bed or organizing your files right encourages you to get bigger things done. So, let's discuss some creative file organization ideas that will help you get the bigger things done in your business.

sample Creative File Organization Ideas

1. Set Your Digital File Organization Goals

A file organization system that works in another business may not work for you. It works for that business because it fits their file organization goals and data needs. Therefore, start by listing your goals down.

Your file organization goals should help you work smarter and achieve maximum business process efficiency. Therefore, set goals that align with your employee's and business needs.

For example, consider whether the file organization system you want to implement will require training your employees. You may implement a complex system that lowers productivity even further because employees spend more time figuring out how the system works.

2. Review the Existing Files

Creative File Organization Ideas- showing files in a folder

Hoarding files may be the reason you have a disorganized file system. Like in your closet, the harder you find it to let things go, the messier it becomes. Now that you’ve developed goals, it's time to sort out the mess.

Review all the existing files in your database. Focus on ranking files depending on their importance, use, and relevance. Ranking your files based on level of importance allows you to determine the best action to take on a specific file.

For example, some of your files have probably been rendered unimportant because no one has updated them for a long time. On the other hand, some files could be of more importance when grouped. You’ll be able to make effective decisions after reviewing your files.

3. Create a Hierarchical Folder and Sub-folder System

A file organization system is more than just a system to store your business documents. It is a system to help you achieve your business process efficiency goals. A hierarchical folder system helps you create a file organization structure. The structure enables you and your employees to access and identify files faster.

The folder and subfolder names you use also define a file's purpose. For example, a finance folder will mostly contain files relevant to the finance department employees and the business owner. Therefore, employees from other departments will automatically ignore it when searching their files.

A folder system also helps you secure confidential and sensitive information. It gives you full control over all the organization's data resources and the ability to decide the file access permissions of each employee.

Decide the hierarchical structure you will use to create your folders. For example, you could decide to start your first folder hierarchy based on the different departments in your organization.

You may also create the following subfolders in the various departmental folders:

  • Private files

  • Pending matters

  • Projects

  • Completed projects

  • Archives – it's for files you may need to reference in future

  • Shortcut – create shortcuts for frequently used documents or have these specific files in the shortcut folder.

4. Limit the Number of Folders

Creative File Organization Ideas- woman organizing folders

It is easy to get overexcited while creating folders for your filing system. An excess number of files will overwhelm and create a lot of inefficiencies in your system. Ensure the hierarchy you create is short enough. That will effectively limit the number of folders and subfolders you create.

You could also employ certain tricks to limit the number of folders you have to create. For example, merging files with similar content into one folder limits the folders you create.

Moreover, you also have to establish a file accountability system among your employees. Create a data policy to move files into the right folders to avoid cluttering the system.

5. Establish a Logical File and Folder Naming System

The file and folder system you have created is like an encrypted code. Now you must develop a decryption key and share it with the people you want to access the files.

An important rule to remember when creating a naming system is that it should be standard across the entire organization. Uniformity increases efficiency when accessing any file stored in the organization database.

Here are some common files and folders naming systems:

  • Date or year created- the system is ideal if you offer financial service business and have huge files tied to specific periods.

  • Client's name – it is suitable when you work with clients on a project basis. For example, this system would be ideal if you offer virtual assistant services.

  • Document Type

  • Project names – it is ideal for cross-departmental collaboration on projects. It makes it easier for all the team members to access and update the files accordingly.

The names you use should be simple and memorable. Moreover, the folder names should be specific to reveal the file's contents.

6. Create a Cloud File Backup

Creative File Organization Ideas- showing cloud backup

All the efforts you have applied to create a file organization system can be proved futile by a simple system crash. That is, of course, if you have not maintained a digital backup of your files on the cloud.

There are plenty of cloud file storage tools you can use to back up your files. Notable mentions on this list include:

  • Dropbox

  • Google Drive

  • OneDrive

  • iCloud Drive

The sync services, including those built into your computer operating systems, are important in maintaining the relevant cloud backups. They facilitate automatic updates of the synced files in the cloud backup tools.

Another advantage of backing up your files to the cloud is that you can access your files remotely when the need arises. For files used in team projects, several cloud-based collaboration tools enable you to save and update files on the cloud automatically.

7. Create a Version Control System

You will need to update or modify your files occasionally. Therefore, don't shy using automated tools to manage your files. For example, a file organizing software with version control will help you track all modifications you make to your file.

The process is far simpler and more efficient, especially when dealing with many files. The version control also ensures that team collaboration projects aren't messy.

Note: for team projects, ensure that the teams use one file saved on a shared server. Such a system allows team members to collaborate in real-time, and each member will use a version control that allows them to track changes they make to the file.

8. Utilize Tags and Metadata

You can do an excellent job of establishing a solid file organization system, but it could be all for nothing if the system doesn't help you or your employees easily retrieve a file.

Assign tags to your files to make it easy to search for a file through the database. The tags should have a specific meaning for those using or sharing a given file.

Similarly, metadata fields help you store additional information about a file or its content. For example, you can use metadata to provide details about a file, like the date it was created, file description, and file type.

Maximize Your Productivity with These File Organization Ideas

You will be more productive when you become the person who gets things accurately and on time. We understand if you’re busy with all other tasks in your business. Check out our admin support packages here and choose your best package. We’ll help you organize your files among other admin tasks.

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