In the meantime, you will likely have both paper and computer files that you need to organize so that you can find them when you need them. Here are some tips for organizing both your real and virtual documents:
Organizing Paper Documents
Simplicity is key in a paper document filing system. If your current document filing system is dysfunctional, then you will want to try the method outlined here. First of all, get the supplies you will need:
- A sturdy file cabinet
- A supply of hanging file folders
- An electronic label maker
Give some thought to the categories of paper documents you will need to be filing. Some files you will want to scan into your Mac. Others, such as personal letters or legal documents, may lose something in the translation, and so you may prefer to keep them.
Create a folder for each of the categories you decide on, using the label maker to create file tabs and clearly labeling the purpose of each one.
You should shoot for the goal of not requiring more than one minute to add something to your physical filing system and no more than 30 seconds to retrieve it.
Old advice was to create a database documenting the items in your paper file cabinet, but this is a lot of extra work, and it kind of defeats the purpose of the whole system. Better is to scan those documents into the computer that you need to keep but don’t require you to have a paper copy.
If you have been having trouble keeping on top of your file organization, you probably have been overcomplicating things and not doing them according to a simple enough strategy.
The thing to remember is that merely owning a computer is not automatically going to make you organized, the promises of Apple for its Spotlight file searching system notwithstanding. Often, people have more clutter on their computers than in their physical office.
Computer files don’t take up any space in one’s home or office, which is why many people allow them to get out of hand, but a cluttered computer can affect your productivity and satisfaction. Your Mac should be a great source of productivity and can be if you organize your files properly. After all, searching for files on your Mac should not be a frustrating experience.
Sometimes, you just want to browse through the files you have, or see a simple reminder that you have them in the first place. This is what organization is for: to allow you to browse through similar documents.
The thing to remember is that while Macs are easy to use, that doesn’t mean that file organization is equally easy, nor that you should just throw everything into a single folder and hope that Spotlight will be able to find it for you later on.
Therefore, you should create subfolders on your Mac within your Documents folder for various topics and get into the habit of putting things into the appropriate folders.
Inside those topic folders, create appropriate subfolders. For example, as an Internet marketer you might have a folder for affiliate programs and within that folder other folders for the specific documents related to each affiliate program you are a participant in.
I like the third-party system add-on DragThing for the Mac, which allows you to create “docks” into which you can put folders and applications for easy access (as’s an alternative or supplement to the Apple Dock). If you wish to scan paper documents, you can use a utility such as Yep for the Mac for your PDF files or DEVONthink for other types of documents.
No organizational system is 100% perfect, but by putting just a little bit of effort into the process, you will find that you can organize your files in a way that is right for you.