File Management: A Crucial Business Strategy
I bought my first laptop before learning the importance of file management. BIG. MISTAKE. I created files as needed or based on what I thought made sense at the time (which was never consistent). If it was a quick project, I threw it on my desktop, telling myself that I would file and organize it later when I had more free time (all a lie)… I know you have said this to yourself before, as we all have. There is no such thing as more free time, so never bank on it.
File management is crucial.
When hunting for files, you need to save space and time by keeping what is necessary and not. I can not tell you how often I have tried to go back and refile all of my previous work, and I am still not done! Without a file management process, you will waste time, space, and even money in the long run.
Start organizing your files now!
You can start as broad as you want. We begin with the year, most people tend to keep their computers for an average of 3-5 years (according to Small Business), so this allows you to have your focus on only your current/relevant projects. This will also help if you ever need to recall a past project. From here, we have our different work categories, including our Draft Marketing projects, personal freelance, and any additional broader groupings that make sense.
Within these categories having individual clients allows you to locate all your work quickly. Then you have your projects, including all of your starter art, files, or any content you were provided with from the client so that it is all in one location. MAKE THIS A HABIT. Once you receive anything about the specific project, throw it in the corresponding folder and then remember to delete it from your downloads (if you are on a Mac) This saves on unnecessary duplicates taking up space.
Create a file for your artwork.
Create version files for every single revision needed and (Cmd S) Save As! Never save over your previous work. A client can and will often turn around and say they like attributes of earlier versions, and if you do not have that saved, it is gone. Why reinvent the wheel when you already created it. Save revisions and save revisions within those revisions. It will pay off.
Once the client approves the art, you guessed it… MAKE ANOTHER FOLDER! This can also help when you are scheduling out your content. Read more here about Scheduling your content. Having these processes will save you time and money. Using this technique, you will be able to quickly find the final approved art without any question.
File Management 101 – Consistency
I know how much this all sounds like common sense, but it is so easy to forget, tell yourself, “you will organize it later,” or “it’s just a quick project” and the holy grail of procrastination of file management excuses. “I don’t need to go through this process.” Do it and do it now. If you don’t, it will not get done, and three years later: you will be maxed out on your laptop’s memory, spending hours hunting for artwork from last year, and constantly worried whether you deleted it or not. Time is money, do it right the first time, and you will never run into this problem.
General File Naming
We have all run into hunting down an old project that was not filed properly. You know it exists but do not know the exact location. Now you are left searching in the Finder (On Mac), and it is still missing. When you are naming files, they should NEVER include special characters such as !@#$%^&*()./?\|. That consists of the very common “.” The period in your file name is what allows your computer to identify what file type it is. (Example) Once you add in a period before the last one separating the name from the file type, it can lead to a corrupt file as you are changing the file itself. The other characters will also potentially lead to corrupt files or simply prevent you from quick Finder results. According to FileCenter there are many different ways to improve file management once you conquer the basics.
This is mainly geared towards a designer’s files as we know how many files we are continually creating and revising, and it can quickly turn your computer into a dump. By following this advice for file management, we believe time, space, and ultimately money will be saved. There is no reason for you to spend a substantial amount of time hunting/recreating work, which happens all too often. Organize your files from the broadest category down to the smallest and SAVE EVERYTHING. Consistently keeping these ideas in mind will streamline your business and digital organization.
Are you interested in how we can help you manage your files and streamline your business plan? Contact us to learn more.