The Best Way to Name Files

I hate it when I quickly save a file then come back to work on it again and can't recall what I named it. Did I call it the "Activities Director Performance Review", the "Perf Review for AD", or perhaps November 05 PR for AD?"

Let alone remembering what folder I stuck it in.

I now save all files using the same format, which is based on the date the file is created. This way, even files that aren't under a specific folder still sort themselves in some order regardless of what you named them. Here's how it works:

1. Always use the year as the first four digits. Otherwise, files you save this November will be mixed with files you saved last November. Then the two digit month, followed by a two digit day. Always use four digits for the year and two for the months and days to maintain consistency.

2. Don't be afraid to use big file names. Remember when a filename could only be 8 characters long? They changed that for a reason - take advantage.

3. Don't be afraid to use spaces in your file names. Follow the date heading with a space and the name of the file. I prefer to use department abbreviations followed by a document name.

EXAMPLE: 2006-11-21 AD Performance Review

This method has made it much easier to locate my files at any given time. I also sort the My Documents folder into eight major departments to mirror the organizational structure, then drill down through each department to create folders as necessary. This saves me from ending up with an "Activities Director" folder plus a "Performance Reviews" folder and eliminates confusion over where files ended up.

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