A well organised workspace promotes efficiency in the workplace and can save you hours of time when trying to find a piece of work or project from the distant past. It’s amazing how quickly you forget where you save things and how quickly your workspace can become cluttered and chaotic. Here are some best practices in storing, naming and tracking the different versions of your files both personally and in the workplace.
Folders are designed to make your life easier, so use them! A great way to get organised is to use Hierarchal Subfolders which categorise your work according to unit, month or project. Making sure your folder systems are structured, ordered and logical will not only make it easier for you to find your work, but will make it easier for you to work with others and with their systems – perfect if you’re a freelancer or contractor working with clients and organisations for short periods of time.
We’re not talking about naming your files Bob or Jill, but naming your work properly is not only best practice for keeping your work organised but it can help you integrate into new companies quickly and also work within a company as a freelancer efficiently.
File Naming Convention (FNC)
Good file naming conventions can help both you and others navigate through your work. FNC includes ensuring you are consistent with how you name your files and don’t use any special characters, aside from the underscore which can be used to replace spaces. The best practice of FNC for Dates is YYYY_MM_DD which will enable you to search file and project archives quickly and efficiently.
Another good example of an easy to read FNC is CML (pronounced camel) case text. This is where a file or folder is named with a combination of upper case and lower case letters which is easy to read for both the computer and the user.
In a collaborative workplace many people may work on one document. If you’re not tracking changes and keeping up to date with which document is the most recent, your project is likely to get very messy very quickly and miscommunications between you and your team are more likely. Helps you keep the most up to date document at prominent and is particularly useful when sharing a document amongst team.
Working out a system, and sticking to it, is key for version control when naming files and can be done by adding V_ and then the version number after making changes. You can also choose to add your initials if working in a team so you can track who made the most recent changes.
Regular Back Ups are essential now that so much of the world of work is digitalised. Too often fate will strike when you lease expect it and files you thought you had forever will no longer become available to you. Backing up weekly is a good idea if your computer or Mac are home to your workload and valuable content – even things like personal photos!
You can back up your files to External Cloud devices such as Google Drive or DropBox. The advantages of this are you are able to access these files remotely anywhere, but it is you trusting an external, non-physical storage space which is not immune to going offline or being hacked. The copyright of your work can also be questioned depending on what platform you use – so be careful!
External Hard Drive (Onsite and Offsite)
Having your files backed up to an external hard drive is a good idea to again protect you if your machine goes into melt down. You should ideally have two external backups just in case one is lost, stolen or destroyed. You can never be too careful!