File management basics
Last week I talked with a colleague about file management. The conversation made me think about some general principles:
- Solve the Where’s Waldo? problem: you can't find what you need if it's embedded in total clutter.
- Be aware of contradictory guidelines, such as place like with like, and organize materials by project. Both of these are valid principles: think about which one receives priority for a particular set of materials.
- Use a simple version control system. Along with version control, segregate personal work from team projects, and published from unpublished work.
- Develop consistent folder and file naming conventions: this principle aids every search you do, manual or otherwise.
- Proceed slowly and quickly: with due deliberation for planning, and with alacrity for clean-up and new entries in your folder and file tree.
- Improve the tree as you go: don’t let a mess build up, and don't try to solve every problem at once. Stay organized as you work.
- Set high expectations for file management and version control when you collaborate with teammates. You'll find some co-workers are more careful than you are, others less.