What I Use: File Management (Premium)

My approach to file management has evolved over the years, guided by both my own special form of OCD and by major improvements to cloud-based storage services.

And to be clear, I don’t necessarily think that my system is what you should do. I have my own peculiarities, including some need to be organized and to keep everything I’ve written. Your job may be very different, as may the types of files you want to keep. In fact, I fully expect that many people will try to make sense of my system and wonder what the heck is wrong with me.

So the only goal here really is to explain what I do and, in doing so, inspire you to think about your own needs and perhaps make changes so that your own file management methods become more useful to you. (Or maybe you’ll realize that what you’re doing now is just fine, thank you very much.)

Without getting into the historical stuff too much, I used to organize my work-related data in an overly-hierarchical and organized way that I’m now embarrassed by because it is so unscalable. But any time I want to be bothered by it, I can still see my old filing system as it’s backed up on my home-based NAS and in OneDrive in the cloud.

In this system, I organized by topic and then by date. Top-level topics included such things as Office Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, and so on. And within each of those folders were folders for years (2009, 2010, and so on), and inside of those were folders for individual articles, and those folders were named like 2011-01-06 - Microsoft at 2011 CES so that they would be arranged by date as well.

That system was top-heavy and, in retrospect, inefficient, but I think what really killed it was that search got really good. Instead of navigating into a folder structure to find something based on where I figured it must be, I could---and now do---simply search for some keyword in either the filename or content of the document in question and I can find it very easily. (Go figure, but this is faster on OneDrive than it is with the NAS.)

Anyway, at some point, I decided to move away from my old system, and I started implementing the first versions of what is my current system. And that point was sometime in 2012, based on what I can see in that old folder structure, since I gave up organizing things as I had been doing and started a new folder called Blog Posts and News. In this folder, I segregated out the lighter day-to-day stuff because, let’s face it, the chances of me needing to reference such things internally (as opposed to searching my own site on the web) was/is remote.

But over time, that became my current system, or at least the basis of it. That is, with some article series-based exceptions I’ll discuss later, most of my day-to-day writing is now organized more simply than before.

So let me step through a basic workflow.

Let’s say it’s Monday morning and I’m writing some news article; the topic doesn’t matter. I write this ar...

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