Housewife MacGyver: Organize Thyself {and thy computer} with Housewife Eclectic

Today I have my bestest friend in the whole wide world here: Debra from Housewife Eclectic. I'm over there once a week and I finally convinced her to come slumming over at my place. ;) 

However, I invited her not *just* because she's my BFF... she's also SO good at the whole organized computer thing. When she says she can usually find the files she's looking for quickly, she's not kidding -- I often ask her for random photos from years ago and they are in my email inbox within ten minutes. No joke. So, without further delay, I give you Debra and her mad organization skills:

My name is Debra, I am a wife, mother, writer and photographer. I blog my recipes, photo tips and crafts over at Housewife Eclectic.

To say that I am a neat freak, would be the understatement of the century. I am down right anal, especially when it comes to my computer files. I am one of those freaky people that doesn’t allow e-mails to stay in my inbox once they have been read and taken care of and cluttered desktops kill me. I maybe a little crazy when it comes to computer organization but I can usually find what I am looking for quickly.

My organization system is simple. Folders. Folders are your friend. In my Documents, I have five. One for me, one for my husband, the My Pictures folder, the My Music folder, and a joint folder. Everything on our computer can be categorized into one of these folders, but what goes into each folder?

Let’s start with your joint folder. What should go in here? For my husband and I, this folder mostly contains our finances, organized by date. For instance, inside the finance folder is a folder for each year. Inside each year is a folder for each of the finances that we pay online. For instance, our energy bill has its own folder and inside of the folder are all the payment confirmation for that bill. Each confirmation is named with what it is and the month it represents. There is an extra folder in our finances folder called Orders, that holds all of the payment confirmations of things I have bought online. I say I, because let's face it, I am the online shopper in the family.

Our individual folders contain very different things. For instance, my folder contains folders named blog, projects, journals and recipe book. Everything that I do for my blog is contained within my blog folder. My projects folder contains folders for every project I have worked on. There is one for my twin nephews baby announcement, there is one for last Christmas’s card and so on. All of the files I needed for the project and the finished product are contained in their respective folders.

My husbands folder contains a folder for his job, a professional one for resumes and then folders for his hobbies including web design, family history and guitar tabs. If you don’t feel like a project you have just made fits into anyone of your folders, just make a new folder.

We keep all of our music together in one place. I have found for me, it is easier to take a hands off approach to our music and I let iTunes organize it for me.

As for pictures, I am very particular. I take a lot of photos and I like to be able to find them when I need them. I start with a folder for each year, then a folder for each month in the year, and then each event that happened in that month. For instance if I was looking for my daughter's birth, I would go to the Year 2008 folder, and then located the folder labeled Sofie's birth inside the December folder. This makes it so I can locate all my photos with relative ease. For more information about photo organization, you can read my post here.

The hardest thing about computer organization is getting it organized in the first place. Once it is organized, your files will be easy to find and the organization should be easy to keep up. Two important things to remember: 

Don't be hesitant to create a new folder. I have some project folders that only contain one or two items but because it is in a separate folder, I know exactly where to find it. There is no folder police that is going to tell you that you have too many folders or that you have organized too much. I have more than 85,000 items in my documents folder and if you like to take pictures, I am sure you are not that far behind me. Trying to keep all of those files organized with just a few folders isn't realistic. Create as many as you need. If you know the general name of a folder, you can always use the search feature to find it later on.

Remember to always name your files and folders will full names, not abbreviations. You likely won't remember what abbreviations you used later when you are searching for the files, so always use the full names even if it makes the folder name longer.

Thanks, Debra! And I can tell you that this system works (and that's an uncompensated testimonial) -- I reorganized all my pictures in this system and I loooove it. I'm still not perfect and struggle a lot with those last two guidelines, but my pictures are awesomely manageable and the system is easy to keep up. Now I just need to work on the rest of my files and curb my tendency to toss random things on my desktop...


Brandy@YDK said...

great advice. I'm just now getting where I name my photo folders by the month they are taken.

Amy said...

Super advice! I just started using an new computer and am still working off an external hard drive. Maybe now is the perfect time to get my folders set up just the right way and then move things over as I go. Brilliant!

Megan Harmeyer said...

Great info! You better never come look at my home computer - it's a jumbled mess (desktop and folders). *sigh* I'm envious of your organizational skills.

Gwen @ Gwenny Penny said...

Fantastic advice, Debra! I'm very particular about how my photos are organized... by year, then month, then event/holiday. I'm not so good with the random documents that I don't know where to file. Thanks for the tips!

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