You probably already have some files on your computer, so don’t begin by trying to organize EVERYTHING. You’ll feel like I do when cleaning out my attic–overwhelmed and despondent. Begin by organizing your newest project. Then slowly, you can organize one old project a week.
Before you begin, decide where to keep your folders and files. I use Dropbox. Some folks use Google Drive. Others use flash drives. I prefer cloud storage to removable devices. Let’s not argue about this point here. We want to get to the meat of this article–organization.
First rule: Every file must go into a folder. Think of this as putting your clothing away. You don’t throw clean socks onto the bedroom floor until you’re ready to wear that pair. You place each item inside a drawer (let’s hope). You have a sock drawer, t-shirt drawer, and money drawer. I was kidding on that last one. No money drawer in my bedroom. So, place each file in a folder.
I’m going to advise you to go with your gut on this and organize in a way that matches your brain. Let’s examine my brain. Are you holding on tight? Okay. I begin a new folder for each book. Inside that folder, I place more folders. I make new folders with the following names: Research, Critiques, Draft, Final, Artwork, Marketing, Excerpts, and Archives. You can see that I have quite a few folders, and I use them all.
Second Rule: Accurately name your files. I name files inside each folder to reflect the contents. For instance, inside “Marketing,” you will find one file with upload details. That particular filename uses this pattern: BookTitle.UploadDetails.docx. If that file was only named with the title of the book, I’d waste time by opening it to examine the contents. Also, I can move a file (maybe I’d like to place all EXCERPTS for all books in one folder instead of by book folder) and I can identify the new file no matter where I place it.
Third Rule: Take a deep breath. You can organize files and folders one project at a time. This is the method to my writer’s madness. It saves me time. And we all can use more of that.