Organising business files and folders can be tricky, especially in a large office with multiple departments and high volumes of staff. Ever find yourself asking ‘where did I save that file’, followed by lots of wasted time looking for it?

Like designated sections in a supermarket, organising business files and folders is a structured way reduces frustration and increases productivity and efficiency.

Make it easy to use so everyone can find the files they’re looking for.  Too complicated and no-one will want to use the new system and things will become chaotic again.

Store in a shared location, not on your desktop

Others can’t access files on your desktop, and you risk duplicating them should you also store them centrally.  Files should be saved on a server, network drive or a in a document management system. IT back up servers and network drives and not individual desktops.

Group by category

Work out what categories make sense for your business:

  • By department – HR, Finance, Operations, Sales etc.
  • By clients – a separate folder for each client with structured sub-folders, all following the same naming convention.
  • By product – a folder for each product with everything you need relating to that product – road map, marketing, description, images, technical notes etc.

Group by date

Many business activities are reoccurring so organising by year or month means everyone knows the latest folder.

Use sub-folders

After organising business files and folders into categories, use additional layers to help you narrow the content down further.  Do this by using subheadings.

Use final, draft and archive folders

Use subfolders for the different stages of a task:

  • Final – for any documents that are completed and approved,
  • Draft – save work in progress or any revisions along the way,
  • Archive – use the archive folder to store old materials for reference, like notes, research, scrapped ideas, etc.

Create folder templates

Once you’ve designed your folder structure, create empty folders as a template so you can keep it consistent.

For example, if you organise your files based on client name, you’ll probably want to use the same file structure over and over again for each client.

Organising business folders

Don’t float folders

It can be easy to create a folder with a 1 or _ in front so that floats to the top of your folder list. Try not to, it defeats the purpose of what you’re trying to achieve.

Organising business files and folders can be time consuming, especially if you’ve been working in a dis-organised way for some time.  Stick with it though, it will be worth it.