Does your computer desktop look like aftermath of a 4th of July picnic? Things strewn here, there, everywhere with no easy way to find what you’re looking for?

You knew you were going need that all that stuff so you thought you’d just save it to your desktop so it’d be handy later on. 78 handy files later, and you can’t find a thing. Let’s clean up your desktop and organize your files so you can find what you need, when you need it, and enjoy that beautiful desktop wallpaper graphic you so carefully chose.

Files have homes and those homes are called folders. But what happens when you have too many folders? Your computer is going to alphabetize your folders. If you just name folders by the contents you’ll end up with a long list of folders that will be no easier to scan than your desktop full of files. This is where we are going to make things nice and easy to use.

Step 1: Think in big general categories, like projects. Use the projects or type of information as the prefix in your naming strategy and see how things group up naturally. For example:

Project – Marketing
Project – Miscellaneous
Project – Staffing
Project – Writing

Marketing – Blog
Marketing – Internet
Marketing – Social Media

See how much easier it is to scan and find what you want?

Step 2: Handle your action items. Use “call to action folders” to put important things you can’t address at this moment:

To Do
To File
To Read

Step 3: The “Misc” pile, it is ok to have a miscellaneous folder for those hard to define items. Just make sure you don’t have too many of them.

Organizing your files in a well named file system will save you time searching and clean up your desktop! Focus on defining the big categories and everything will naturally find its home. And don’t forget your call to action folders for the rest.

What are your thoughts? What’s your experience? Do you have any ways to improve on these tips?