Have you ever seen anyone play the game of Jenga? It starts with a tower of wooden bricks, sometimes 16 layers high. Each player takes a turn at removing a brick and then places it back on the top of the pile. The tower starts off very stable but ends up very wobbly and eventually collapses in the end. The tower sometimes grows two to three times its original size in height. The object of the game is NOT to be the one that causes the tower to fall.
Your data files—whether on your server or on your own PC or cloud drive—are a lot like a virtual Jenga tower.
They start out usually all nice and organized, but day after day, with each new file added, revised, saved, etc., the virtual Jenga tower of data files grow and can quickly become very disorganized and difficult to maintain. And if you are not careful about data organization and storage, over time, you will very likely not be able to easily and quickly find files that you want to access in a flash.
Here are some recommendations for keeping your data files organized as they grow:
- You are your own first customer. By approaching this in an organized fashion, you are putting a customer first and that customer is you! Organize things to benefit yourself...so that you can ultimately better serve your clients.
- Save in a single place. Generally, it is best to have a single organized place on your server or your PC where you store files. Resist the urge to store on the desktop. Use that only for something very temporary. Desktops quickly get messy and overrun with useless, old and duplicate files.
- Save in a hierarchical fashion. Think about how you do business and how you organize things, how you make decisions, your approach to clients and to internal issues. Then, map out a simple hierarchical structure from a big picture level. Think through most files, and see if they can all fit. If not, add—but add sparingly!
- Set a naming/version structure. Devise a basic template for the names you will give to saved files. Think in terms of time/year/client/department…whatever makes sense to you. Then use that naming convention for every file you save. After a while, it will become second nature and prove to be very helpful downstream.
- Practice folder creation economy. Think and act in a minimalist fashion—do not waste folders! Most files can easily be saved within a simple hierarchy if you have done a good job of thinking about the hierarchy first!
- Archive the old. Out with the old, in with the new! Well, not exactly. Create an archive folder for old files that are very unlikely to be needed over the next 1824 months. The archive can easily be accessed if need be. That way these older items are not clogging up the works.
- Keep at it. One major reason to set up a file structure like this and to “keep at it” is that as business moves along, something that currently is incredibly top of mind with you and consuming all your time today, will be less meaningful to you as time goes on and quickly forgotten in 5 years. However, you might want it back; so store it in a place where you can find it in the future!
With the proper foresight and planning, you can become a virtual Jenga winner. Need help getting organized? Give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.
First published in our February 2018 IT Radix Resource newsletter