October 2009 Newsletter

Tip of the Month: Organizing your computer files

How much thought do you give to your computer file names? Of course you know that meaningful file names are a good idea — but here are two other quick suggestions.

1. If you’re going to put a date in your file name, use the format yyyy-mm-dd (or yyyymmdd, or yyyy_mm_dd). Then when you list your files, you’ll see something like this sample from my own files:

  • Bernal 2009-02-11.pdf
  • Bernal 2009-02-17.pdf
  • Bernal 2009-03-31.pdf
  • Bernal 2009-07-13.pdf
  • Bernal 2009-09-02.pdf
  • Bernal 2009-10-21.pdf

Dr. Bernal is my dentist — yes, I did see him a lot this year — and these are the scans of my invoices from him. They are in a file called 2009 Medical. It’s very nice to able to see them listed in chronological order.

In other cases, I only use the year and the month — but I still use the same format. For example, the folders for the magazine I edit are named like this:

  • CV 2008-08
  • CV 2008-09
  • CV 2008-10
  • CV 2008-11

2. Use special characters at the start of any file name or folder name you want to see at the top of the list when you open a directory or a folder. For example, I have a mail folder named @Calendar Support, which holds the messages about anything on my calendar. I like having this folder show up at the top of my mail folder list, like this:

  • @Calendar Support
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Organizing – Clients
  • Organizing – NAPO
  • Organizing – Vendors

(No, those aren’t all my mail folders — that’s an abbreviated list.)

I’ve also used a tilde (~) to put certain files at the top of my list. I’ve seen other people use a blank space. However, some special characters are illegal in file names, so be sure not to use one of those.

Organizing Product of the Month

This is the time of year when many wonderful calendars become available. I’ve featured many in my blog, but here’s another one worth noting, from the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. The calendar is printed on recycled paper with soy ink. The RPVC of Madison, Wisconsin — which produces the calendar — says, “nearly every day lists important festivals, birthdays, and holidays from around the world.”