If you work from home you don’t need me to remind you that there is a price to pay for this luxury. You may save on rent but you have to work hard to keep a balance. If your work space starts to get mixed up with your living space then in the worst case scenario you can end up unhappy at home and unhappy at work.
Putting the problems with your physical work space to one side, what about your virtual work space, your virtual office?
If you also work online then you will know that sometimes information is stored on paper (hard copy) and sometimes it is stored on your PC and sometimes it is stored on both mediums. But as your business grows, so does the amount of information that you need to store.
What then becomes critical is the organisation of your information. This article aims to highlight just how important it is to be organised when managing your files and folders on your PC.
I can’t give you a script-like formula because every different person will have different methods but the most important thing that applies to everyone is to realise just how important this part of the job is.
If you choose to learn the hard way (as I did) then you will come to a complete dead end, struggle to make money online and you will realise that –
1. You must use consistency when naming folders. Every separate individual can use different wordings and techniques (as long as you work alone) but you must consistently use them throughout to organise your folders and files on your PC and on your server. This is a good habit which can be used throughout the different areas of your work, such as on your websites.
2. If you don’t know where to start, just remember that the ideal system is based on logic. For example this is a quick example of one of my folders –
Top folder – Work
1st level down – Folder1 – Work in progress, Folder 2 – Completed work
2nd level down in folder 1 – Folder 1 – Articles, Folder 2 – eBooks
2nd level down in folder 2 – Folder 1 – Articles, Folder 2 – eBooks
This is just a quick example. You may have many more folders (branches) in the tree and I’ve made it a simple example just to demonstrate the point. You’re probably thinking, “So? That’s obvious” and it’s meant to be. My point is that if you look at your folders you will more than likely find that they have ‘lost the logic’ somewhere along the line. Which leads me nicely to point three……
3. Even the most organised person needs to regularly ‘spring clean’ their folders and sweep away the ‘dust’. It’s a horrible job but it’s got to be done. When your physical office is untidy it is somewhat easier to get around to doing the tidying up. Once you can’t find anything or can hardly open the door then it is easy to decide that it’s time for a tidy up. But it’s not so easy to get around to spring cleaning the PC and the effects of an unruly ‘virtual’ filing system is much more destructive to your ‘work from home’ business.
4. Don’t be scared to create a system that seems to have too many folders. For some reason the human brain is naturally more likely to avoid having too many folders than it is to avoid having unorganised and poorly named folders. But this is back to front.
When you are managing your folders remember that when you get to a point where you are about to split a folder and create two from it, it is always preferable to do this than not. If a little voice in your head says, “Don’t split them, you’ll have too many folders if you carry on like this” – just ignore it and split the folders! This is an example –
You have a folder called widgets which you have created to contain any information that you find/create on widgets. You swipe an article on widgets by someone else plus you write your own article about widgets. You find some text that you want to keep because it teaches you stuff that you need about widgets and you also buy an eBook about widgets.
There are two important things to consider –
1. It is better to create four new folders in the widgets folder than to just throw all four items in the folder. Why? Because it might seem when there is only four items that it doesn’t matter, but you can be sure that in a short while you will have thirty different items in there and the whole thing becomes a mess. So go and create four folders which could be named –
a) other people’s (widget) articles
b) my (widget) articles
c) (widget) swipe file
d) my widget study purchases (for the eBook)
2. Sometimes before you create the new folder system, you may have to make decisions. For example, using the above widget example – after you have dealt with widgets you may go on to do similar studies of a hundred other products. Then you will end up with a hundred different folders, each concerning a different product.
This may be OK, but it may also be better to have all the articles by other people in one folder for all the different products, all the swipe files in one folder etc. The point is again that there is no hard and fast rule except for these two golden rules of folder management –
1. Do allow the time for this organisational task. It is important and it always takes twice as long to go backwards and reorganise it once it descends into chaos.
2. Try to think ahead and design systems that will work at the moment and will more than likely work in the future as your business grows and changes.
Remember – being organised may be boring but it’s possibly the most vital but most undervalued hidden ingredient of every successful online business.