Computer and Physical Files – Same Organizing Process

Recently a client asked for some tips organizing digital files. Her physical filing cabinet was pretty organized, but her desktop contains hundreds of documents and her email inbox had close to 200 emails.

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For example, if you have a physical folder labeled “Current Marketing” in your file cabinet, then the folder where you keep electronic versions of marketing items should be labeled “Current Marketing”. The email folder where you would keep emails related to marketing should also be labeled “Current Marketing”.

Often clients ask me “what” they should label their folders.

My answer is to ask yourself the question, “When I look for this item again, where would I look?” This is the label you should put on it.   Possible labels for a folder filled with items needing immediate attention are:

  •  Action
  • To Do
  • Urgent
  •  Do or ELSE
  • Important Stuff

Just make sure the name of the folder resonates with you and matches the corresponding physical and electronic folder.

If you are just starting to organize files, a few categories for electronic folders that may be helpful:

  • pending (for items requiring responses from others)
  • projects (for long term ideas)
  • “Suzy Q” (files for items that require the attention of someone you work with or see often)
  • action (for items requiring immediate attention)
  • organizations you belong to
  • vacation destinations
  • coupons
  • newsletters, . . .

BONUS TIP #1 –  Only use the email inbox for items still requiring attention,  file everything else into the corresponding folder.

BONUS TIP #2 – Set a deadline for clearing your inbox.  (Some clients clear it daily, others weekly, others monthly.)


What strategies have you found helpful when dealing with digital clutter?  What obstacles have you come across?  Please post below!