Think about the bottom of your to-do list. The very bottom. You’ve probably got a handful of things that you write down every day that you never manage to have time for. These are the “unsexy” tasks of running your business. These are the tasks that probably take some time and can be mind-numbing.
And at the bottom of your list, I can almost guarantee that there is at least one task that involves organization.
And I get it, trust me. As a new media content creating business, we’ve got files on files on files. And files for our files. And the idea of sifting through gigabytes and terabytes of content sounds horrible.
But without our organization system, I would spend hours if not weeks and months trying to sift through everything and make sense of it.
So this week we’re going to go through 5 Reasons to Start Organizing Your Files and 5 Helpful Tips for Creating the Best File Infrastructure for Your Small Business.
5 Reasons to Start Organizing Your Files
1. Time Saving
Have you ever found yourself searching for a file for hours? What a waste of time. If you have an effective organization system, you won’t find yourself wasting valuable time searching through your countless drives and computers.
2. Task Handover / Employee Turnover
It’s easy for us to not think about how our jobs may change or our staff may change. But the inevitable reality is that they will. If you establish an organizational system across your business it will become that much easier to hand off a project or a position to someone new. This will save you time and allow for a consistent quality of work to be maintained within your business.
3. Higher Success Rate for Recurring Content
There are things you’ve done in the past that have been incredibly successes. Whether it’s a product launch event you had or a piece of content that gathered you 1000 clicks, there are successes that have led you to where you are today. You can learn a lot from these successes but only if you can find all of your files that went into that success. If you are able to have that organization, it’ll be easier to track what worked and what didn’t.
4. Valuable Archive
It does you little to no good having endless amounts of data stored in a huge file folder on a thumb drive somewhere. It does you considerably more good to have an organized history of your business files so that you are able to sort through your essential information and data.
5. Foundation for New and Better Initiatives
Only when you know where you’ve been can you imagine where you’re going. You’ve worked hard and dedicated countless hours and dollars to your business, so stop reinventing the wheel every time you have a project or a marketing initiative or a company memo. Build off of what you already have and make it better. That is only possible if you know what you have.
5 Helpful Tips for Creating the Best File Infrastructure
1. Find What Adds Value for YOU
We all own or run different businesses. What’s right for my business may not be right for you. For example we have a client who would be better off organizing their files by product line, whereas we’re better off organizing our files by client. For some businesses it may be most valuable to archive everything by date of creation. Figure out how you look for files and how you wish you could search for your files and create an organization system based off of it.
This is a really cool feature of MACs and PCs that is rarely used. Now for a lot of us we have content that we look up a variety of different ways. For example I may look up a file by a client or project name one time and then look up “video commercial,” the next time I need it. With the properties menu you can actually tag your files so that you’re able to look them up using various keywords. Again, to go through all for your files and do this would be tedious but introduce it into your routine today and start a more efficient archival process.
3. File Naming
We, as designers, are especially known for file names that go a little something like this, “Newsletter Final,” “Newsletter FINAL,” “Newsletter FINAL FINAL 3.” That’s great, we get it. And in the moment that makes total sense. However it will do future you little to no good and you will be lost in a lot of files that never even made the cut. Stay honest with yourself and once you complete a project go through and double check that your file names are timeless and you’ll be able to recognize them in the future.
4. Get on a Schedule
This has helped me tremendously. We all have weekly routines. On Mondays I balance the books and complete payroll. On Tuesday I plan my content for the next week and so on. Add file cleaning to your schedule. It’s like cleaning your room, if you do it consistently enough, it will only take you 15-20 minutes each week. On Friday, we clean up our files.
5. Dump It – The Purge
Everything has a shelf life, including your files. There are things you know you’ll need soon, files you think you may need in the future (archive it!) and files that served only one purpose and you know you’ll never need again. With digital storage being as cheap as it is these days, it’s appealing to keep everything just in case. But in reality you can bog down your system and your own archiving with content you no longer need. Be honest with yourself.
In conclusion, yes, this is the unsexy part of owning a business but the value added can take your company to the next level.
If you ever need any advice on an effective file structure for your company, hit us up! We’re more than happy to help!