A hard drive is certainly handy to store digital files as is the cloud, but naturally we’ll want things organized so we can easily find them again. Most of us do this by creating folders.

Folders are handy and useful. The question is how do we organize our organizational files? Usually we do this by name. What names to use?

Some choices are format, subject, category, date, and number.

Numbering needs a secondary system of some kind. A number is just a number. It’s intrinsic value is how much of something. If you use numbers they need to stand for something like an order or another value. There are many such systems and they are powerful, flexible and work wonderfully but you need to know the system. 100-05-333 doesn’t mean much unless you know what 100, 05 and 333 stand for. Numeric systems work well within a relational database.

Organizing by date can be good. When the “when” is important using a dating system is ideal. Your folders can easily be sorted and searched by date. Sometimes though a single date may be a little misleading if the subject extends over a period of time and using date ranges for folder names is awkward.

Using subject and category for folder name is subject specific and can be made as general or specific as needed. Sometimes though this can get a little confusing if there are endless subjects or categories overlap.

Using format for names falls into the digital realm. Are your files, RAW, JPEG, PSD? Folders with format names are good for finding types of files but not specific in any other way.

Most systems are a blend the above and may include other naming conventions not mentioned. One combo I’ve enjoyed using starts format then drills down to date, then category, then picks up date again along with subject.

Here is an example:
RAW (a dedicated hard drive)
–YEAR (2019)
——-SUBJECT (2019-01-31-SPECIFIC SUBJECT, e.g. 2019-01-31-CHAMBER AWARDS)

Within the subject folder go my RAW files which are then processed and exported to a duplicate system for JPEGs on a separate hard drive. It’s simple and pretty robust. I’ve been using it for years and find things tend to get lost when I don’t use it. It is something that works for me.

Evolve yourself a system. It’s worth it.

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