For a large number of people the majority of their work is done in front of a computer. Yet it surprises me how many people have a default desktop layout and have put very little thought into tailoring it to suit their needs. I think you are missing out on a lot of potential gains by not doing this. Now the desktop for me goes beyond just what you see on your screen. The directory structure you use for storing files and also your physical work area layout play a part in how you will use your computer and are all important. Over the next 3 posts I will focus on each of these and how you can make your life more pleasant and productive.
In this post I will discuss ideas relating to how you organise your files. Some people may ask how this fits in to the idea of tailoring your desktop. I believe that it plays in integral part in how you will interact with your computer and as you will see does tie into your desktop in several ways.
Having a logical structure is very important for anyone that deals with a large number of files. You want to spend as little time as possible searching for and accessing information and as much time as possible doing useful and productive things with it.
Have meaningful naming conventions. This is becoming increasingly important with the advent of fast and effective search on the desktop. Whether you use Windows, OSX or Linux nowadays you have easy access to the ability to quickly search not only by file name but the contents of the file also. People are finding that it is easier to search for files and information rather than navigate to it. To facilitate this you need to have meaningful file names, headings and so on.
For example, I could have a directory structure that has each client in a different folder. Then within each folder I have a file called specification which outlines what the client would like me to do. If I call each file Specification.odf then the following happens:
- Using the navigation based approach to finding the file I would be fine as I would know which client each ‘Specification.odf’ relates to as I’ve just entered their folder before selecting it.
- Using the search based method I may get several results all called ‘Specification.odf’ in my results and not know easily which client each file respresents.
If I’m to start using search more often then I would benefit from using a different naming convention, eg ‘Specification_ClientName.odf’.
Make use of shortcuts to folders you use regularly. This can reduce the need for a lot of navigation time. Try to avoid putting them on the desktop also. This is a poor place to put them as a lot of the time you can’t actually see the desktop when you have other applications open. On OSX, putting ‘Stacks’ on the Dock is a great alternative. On Windows and Linux putting them in your Applications menu or quickstart area is good.
Remove older documents you don’t use anymore. It’s not uncommon to accumulate a lot of junk over the years. People will happily let it clutter up their filesystems. Delete it or archive it and get it out of the way.