I‘ve been successfully organizing large amounts of data for years and I developed the following method while working at Verizon as a research analyst. I continue to use it and teach it to my clients, today. The key to organizing the files on your computer begins with how you name your files.

Rule #1 – Name your files and folders: General to Specific

Rule #2 – Start with the full 4-digit year

Rule #3 – Be consistent

Example: I write a series of reports each month for a client called MLC; I’ve been writing these reports for over two years, and since I enjoy this client and project I hope to continue writing these reports for years to come. By using the following file naming method it’s easy to keep my files organized and to quickly retrieve old reports at a moment’s notice. Here are three sample files created for my client “MLC”:

  • 2010_01_MLC_Report_ABCcompany.pdf
  • 2010_01_MLC_Report_AcmeCorp.pdf
  • 2010_02_MLC_Invoice_JanVAservices.pdf

Always start with the four-digit year, followed by the two-digit month, followed by the client, followed by what (report, invoice, etc.), then end with the specific subject of the file.

Once you get used to consistently using this file naming convention, scanning your filing system and retrieving data is much easier and quicker!