Out of a recent discussion with a new colleague came a simple question – “what is the best way to organize project files into a folder structure, and how should the files be named?”
There’s not one right way for this, but this is how I do it:
Folder structure – keep it simple and consistent
One folder per project, and within it, a general outline that I keep more or less the same for every project and adapt it to the specific needs / complexities that come up:
In this folder I capture everything that relates to the project, the only other place where files will be stored is the Outlook Inbox (I keep separate .PST files for every major project, so I can clean my Outlook afterwards and archive both .PST and project folder together).
There will be cases where a file that was sent to me via email will be saved in the folder structure as well, which is in effect an unnecessary redundancy, but… a) it is often important to log who sent what when, thus deleting the mail does not do you any good, and b) it is always good to keep a second, clean copy of a file someone sent you, in case you tinker with it and forget to make a duplicate copy.
Don’t create too many sub-folders – just enough so that you can oversee the contents of a folder easily. When too many old versions of the same document pile up (I sometimes have over 50 versions of a file), they go into the “old versions” folder, and get deleted after the end of the project.
The folder “Meetings and Milestones” often helps because in creating documentation for steering committees etc., you normally have to take slides/information from all over the project.
The folder “Single tasks” comes in handy to just file away everything that you did on the fly, mostly quick slides for colleagues, a pivot table that the VP wanted to see, stuff like that.
BTW, the numbers in front of the folder name just keep things in the order I want them to be in, they have no other meaning.
File names – Consistent and self-sorting
I was taught a simple scheme after which to name my files, and it has proven very time saving again and again. It goes like this:
- YearMonthDay: For example, 20100521 for May 21st 2010. 100521 works fine as well. Chose the date when the document will be presented / is due.
- ClientName: Self explaining. Make it short (“ACME” instead of “ACME Corporation”)
- ProjectName: Self explaining. Take the official one that the client also recognizes
- DocumentName: Must clearly state what is contained (“SalesForecastQ2″ is better than “Forecast”)
- Version: Count up from “_v01″. I do that in regular intervals when saving the document, and at least before sending it to someone else to indicate that there have been changes compared to the version before. When delivering the document to the client, either delete the version numer or replace it with “_final”
- Editor: Put your initials here when you save the document. “_JD” for Jane Doe. That way, everyone in the team knows who made the last edits on the file.
- XXX: The ending of the file type, e.g. “.ppt”
Thus, a file could be named 20100524_ACME_SalesUp_SalesForecastQ2_v04_JD.ppt. If you keep the file structure like that, the files automatically sort themselves if they are sorted by file name, giving you great oversight within the project folder structure.
What are your secrets in dealing with the masses of files that must be handled on a project? Share it in the comments!Read More
Monday is GTD day at KillerConsultant, but before we dive into a quick intro on what the David-Allen-GTD is all about, a quick primer.
Do consultants even need stuff like that?
I mean, come on. This is a performance profession. Consultants must have all this down from the get go, right? Have you ever met a consultant who struggled juggling tasks? Oh… you did. Have you ever seen a consultant working longer hours than he already does, because things got a bit lost on his big list of “Priority 1″ items? Oh… you did. So the answer of course is (and you saw that coming): YES, we do. Dearly. And because our job is so fast paced most of the time and because we are in the professional services industry, it is crucial for our success and our sanity to be organized, get things done and juggle our plates.
What this GTD-stuff is all about
GTD, the methodology, not the wish to get things done, was created by David Allen. GTD is about…
Capturing anything and everything that has your attention.
Defining actionable things discretely into outcomes and concrete next steps.
Organizing reminders and information in the most streamlined way, in appropriate categories, based onhow and when you need to access them.
Keeping current and “on your game” with appropriately frequent reviews of the six horizons of yourcommitments (purpose, vision, goals, areas of focus, projects, and actions)
(Taken from the source, here) Sounds good? Sure did to me. As there are many many good intros to GTD, I won’t try to sum it up again. For a start, read the great article on 43folders, and when you are done there, and you still like the ideas of GTD, then fork out the ten bucks and get the book (amazon us / amazon de).
Now that you got an idea what GTD is about, get ready for next week, where I will introduce the first of many GTD-tools to you that can make your life as a consultant a more organized, stress free and relaxed one.Read More