When I first entered the workforce, this is how my file management looked like and since then I've tried everything from bro. It doesn't matter if it's messy, just search for it. Man, all the way to have you heard of the Johnny Decimal System? Okay, so first you just need to memorize this totally not complicated numbering structure and then you have to Define your categories. And wait, where are you going? And I found the correct answer to be a healthy balance between form- how neatly organized everything is- and function- how to name your files so you can quickly search for the information you're looking for. So in this video we'll first go over the simple framework I use to organize and name my files, then dive into five specific file management tips that I found to be absolute game changers. Let's get started from a file hierarchy standpoint. I limit the number of folder levels to a maximof five, meaning the sixth level can only be files and documents, no more folders. But each level can have up to 99 folders. So five levels deep, 99 folders wide. For example, this is what I see at level zero in my Google Drive. We'll go over why I chose these in a bit. This is level one, level two, level three, level four and level five and files. Obviously you don't need to have five levels, but more than five. We tend to just get lost. The reason each level can have up to 99 folders is simply because of the numbering: zero one all the way to 99, but as you can see, I rarely go above zero nine.
The folders I access most frequently have lower numbers: zero one, zero two, zero three because they're closer to the top right, and 99 is always reserved for an archive folder. I throw outdated or inactive files into. Coming back up to level zero, the zero one folder has all my personal stuff: zero two, work related. Zero three. Our documents are reference on a regular basis, for example a gym membership card I plot on my phone or templates I use every single week. The zero four quick share folder is something I came up with myself and it works like this.
Let's say I have a planning Deck with confidential information meant only for myself, but a colleague needs a few slides from the same deck. Instead of creating a new file copy, pasting the slides over and then sharing, what I would do is simply select the slide my colleague needs file, make a copy, select the slides and save this new file in the zero four quick share folder before sharing it with my colleague. So basically, zero four Quick Share is a temporary catch-all folder. This way, the confidential slides are kept safe, the original folder is not cluttered with a duplicate and I don't have to constantly annoy my colleague to make a copy so I can delete the duplicate because it's already organized in my quick share folder.
I have a backups folder at level 0, making it super convenient for me to drag and drop files I know I should back up on a regular basis and, last but not least, the 99 archive folder files are probably never use again, but I just can't bring myself to delete. Moving on to how I name folders and documents, there are two ways I go about this. I either include a date or leave it to be sorted alphabetically. Going right into date naming examples: for some documents the year is enough: 2025 budget spreadsheet. If you want to be more specific, we can add a quarter: 2025 q1 Q ubr- quarterly Business Review. While more level down, add a month: 2025 May. Monthly presentation with director and the most granular 2025-0505 inbox: zero training for the sales team. As you can see, the date naming convention depends on the type of file. As a rule of thumb, including just a year or a quarter makes a file more searchable. I think we talked about it in the Q3 presentation.
Let me quickly search for it versus. The more granular you go with the month and date, the more you need to know where the parent folder is so you can find the specific file. For example, I run a lot of workshops and although I don't remember the date for each one, I know they're all within my Jeff's sharings folder.
Another example is for invoices and receipts. You're not going to search for an individual one, but you should know exactly where they are for all folders and files that are not time related and are equally important.
So no zero one, zero two, zero three. I leave them to be sorted alphabetically, but the rule is to be consistent in your naming so the documents are as searchable as possible. For example, most of my files have one of the following keywords: doc, meeting notes, working tricks, briefing, slides and form. So 90 of the time, if I put the project name and one of the keywords, I end up finding the exact file. A viewer in mind- Matthew- he's awesome- has a slightly more complicated naming convention, but it works for him because he follows the same structure for all his files. He knows PM represents a file type zero. One stands for the main file, and if this were 0- 4, it would mean it's a presentation file, so there's no right or wrong way to do this. As we decode our digital space, I also want to talk about the products I've been using from Oki wood to declutter my physical space. They are sponsoring this video, but I would have talked about them anyways, mainly thanks to their latest magsafe lineup. I absolutely love their shelf Mount. I have two, because you can basically clip them on anywhere with an edge and hide the cables underneath the surface. I have one right by the front door along with the Apple watch stand, so super convenient, obviously- and I have one right on my desk so I can have my phone close by without it taking up desk space. It also doesn't hurt that all their products are FSC certified, meaning the wood is sourced from sustainably managed force, and it guarantees that no other materials are getting accidentally mixed into the final product. But for now, back to the digital world. The first and most game-changing file management tip comes from David Allen: organized information by where you will use it, not by where you found it, for example, if you own multiple projects at work, you should not have a separate folder for all your project meeting notes, even though it looks super nice and tidy. Instead, you should have the project, a meeting notes document within the project, a folder itself, because that's where you're most likely to use it.
You open the project folder and all related documents are inside. Right and second. This makes it super easy for you to share the entire project folder with someone else. File organization. Tip number two: make use of a file manager's native features. For Google Drive, this means I can use search operators like type presentation to quickly search for Google slide files or, if that's not your thing, perform a basic search. Then use the filter chips down here to quickly narrow your search results. Pro tip: to quickly find a file you know was shared with you, go to the shared me tab and, under the people chip, input the owner's name or email, because we generally remember the person who shared the file with us.
For Mac users, I highly recommend installing Alfred or raycast. They're both free. Out of an entire tutorial on how to use Alfred for Windows users. I've never tried these, but I heard everything. Listery and walks are all great file management apps. Sticking with Google drive though. Tip number three is attaching a keyword to a file or folder. For example, someone shared this folder with me so I can't change a name to whatever I want. But I can press D to bring up the details tab, scroll all the way down and add a keyword in the description field. Here now, if I search for this keyword- grad and Power- only a few results show up. If I research for Empower, which is part of the name of the folder, a lot more results show up. Thumbs up if you didn't know this before.
Pro tip number one: I love keyboard shortcuts and the two I use the most in Google Drive is PE to preview a file without opening it, and N to rename the file instead of right click rename. Pro tip number two: Mac users can bring up the details view for follow folder by pressing command I and you can add a keyword in the comments field. Here and now. You can search for it directly using Alfred, raycast or Spotlight. I'm sure there's something similar for Windows as well. Windows users, let me know in the comments, file management. Tip number four: ruthlessly prioritize which folders to star or flag for all platforms. There's a way for you to Star file so you can access it quickly from the sidebar. In order for a file to make it on here, it's Gotta pass three tests. First, I need to use it every single day. Second is something I need to quickly access on my phone, since there's a start tab there as well. And third, I can only have 5, 5 Star files maximat any given time, because if everything is start, nothing to start file organization. Tip number five know when to create a shortcut. Whenever a follow folder is shared with you on a cloud storage platform like so, you should immediately take one of three actions: make a copy, add a shortcut to the original file or do nothing. Doing nothing is the most common action to take if the file is just a one-off request. You go into the file and put something for your colleague, then forget about it. You make a copy of the file if you either want to use it as a template or to reference it in the future, but you have to remember all new edits made to the original file will not show in your copy. Which brings us to the action we should all take more often.
Add a shortcut to illustrate. Imagine your manager creates a one-on-one meeting notes document and shares access with you. You want to immediately create a shortcut, because this allows you to organize a file any way you want under your own file management system, without moving the document from its own original location. Your manager has organized it their way, you have it your way, and the arrow icon here makes it clear that this is a shortcut. As you can see, there is no perfect file management system, but two things I can confidently leave you with.
First, over optimizing leads to decrease productivity, so don't overthink it. Second, pick one system, one naming convention and stick to it. If you enjoyed these tips, you might like this video on my top productivity tips for work. See you on the next video. In the meantime, have a great one.