File Naming Smarts: 1 Thing You Can Do To Make Your Life Easier and More Organized

As a solopreneur, I’ve found that being organized is a prerequisite to being productive. If you don’t have your act together, it’s tough to get much accomplished. That’s especially true with regard to handling documents and spreadsheets related to the projects you’re working on.

Saving stuff to aptly-named folders and backing up documents in Dropbox, Evernote, Basecamp, Google Drive, Carbonite, and elsewhere in the cloud or on a separate hard drive is a major step in the right direction. But I’ve discovered that how you name your files can do even more to put your entire work world in order.

Take it or leave it, I thought I’d share what I’ve found an effective approach to naming files so I can easily find them on my computer if perchance (gasp) I fail to put them in the right folder or otherwise lose track of them.

Whenever I create a new Word document, Excel sheet, Powerpoint, etc. related to  projects I’m involved with, I use a standard order for naming them which includes:

Client Name – Project Name – Document Title – Date

And if I’m working for a Marketing firm on a project for one of their clients, I use:

My Client’s Name – Their Client’s Name – Project Name – Document Title – Date

And if I’m working on a file that has been revised, I use:

Client Name – Project Name – Document Title[# of revision] – Date

Of course, you can put your own spin on this to tailor it to your particular situation, but you get the idea.

I didn’t always approach my file names this way, but as my client base and volume of projects has grown I’ve needed to put more thought into optimizing my internal solopreneurial systems and processes to promote better productivity. I realize that naming files seems like a rather insignificant mundane task, but having a “standard” in place has helped a bunch.

Now, if I need to search for my files, I’m not stressing over, “What on earth did I name that file???” I can retrieve without undue brain strain.  And it just plain makes me feel more together overall. Silly perhaps, but it’s true.

How about you? I’d love to hear about any simple, easy to implement organization and productivity tricks that you’ve discovered or developed along the way!

2 comments on “File Naming Smarts: 1 Thing You Can Do To Make Your Life Easier and More Organized
  1. blogjunkie says:

    That’s a great system Dawn. I never have the discipline to stick with a system like that. I think part of the reason is the crazy part of my brain that doesn’t like file names that are so long. I might try simplifying it to

    ABC – Document Name – Date.ext

    where ABC is an abbreviation of the customer’s name.

    • dawnmentzer says:

      Hi David,

      Some file names do a get a little long for sure. Let me know how your abbreviated approach works if you give it a try. Hope all is well with you!


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