Be More Productive With These 5 Filing Tips

If you’re planting or leading a church, you’re busy! You’ve got files and documents everywhere. They pop up faster than the welt of a mosquito bite and spread faster than poison ivy. Here are a few tips to tame your files and documents. Use these simple tips to get more done, save time, and avoid some unnecessary headaches.

1. File Naming To Find Things Quickly

If you’re like me, you’ve got a go-to folder or directory. This could be Staff Meeting or Discipleship or Sermons. For me, it’s a folder called Robbyf where all my client work goes. I’m in and out of that thing hundreds of times a day. When I dive inside my main documents folder, I don’t want to go hunting for that folder in the middle of the pack. To make it show up at the top of the list (sorted by Name), I renamed it ‘*Robbyf’. That nifty asterisk makes it sort alphabetically above folders beginning with an ‘A’. It’s always at the top of the list. You can use almost any non-alphabetic character to start the name, like ‘_Sermons’ or ‘@sermons’. You use this trick at the main level of your folders, or within a folder, (like inside your Sermons folder). Below is a screenshot of how each of the usual symbol characters sorts in relation to one another.

2. File Naming To Keep Things in Sequence

Sometimes you want to keep a series of folders or documents in sequential order rather than alphabetical. Suppose you have a teaching series or set of class notes for your Connection Class. It would be great to name them with titles that make sense, but have them sort according to their order in the series. Simple. Name your files this way: 01-The Gospel, 02-The Church,…10-Gifting, 11-Not Everyone Can Serve on the Parking Team…. (You don’t have to include the dash ‘-’, but it makes it easier to read). Also, start with ‘01-File’ instead of ‘1-File’ to prevent ‘10-File’ from sorting above ‘1-File’.

3. Batch Renaming Files

You may read tip #2 and think, ‘Dang, wish I would’ve known that sooner.’  Before you go manually renaming your 6-year series through Romans, your Mac can help you batch rename those files. Starting with Mac OS 10.10 (released Oct, 2014), you can batch rename files and documents right within Finder. Select the items, right-mouse click and choose Rename # Items. You can choose to Replace Text, Add Text, or Format text. Choose Format to rename your files in sequence. See the screen caps below to see the results of each option under Format. Crazy cool. 

4. Be a Great Dater…of Your File Names

Here’s how to name a set of files associated with dates. A close cousin to sequencing your files by number, this will do it by date. The key is to consistently use one of the following naming schemes:

  • MMDDYY-File
  • MM-DD-YY File
  • MM-DD-YYYY File

Again, you want to use double digits for all months (i.e. January = 01, not 1) and days (04, not 4). As long as you do that and stick to the same plan, things will play nice and sort by date.

5. Sorting Downloads by Date instead of Name

This is an oft-overlooked major time-saver. I can’t tell you how many times I’m looking over someone’s shoulder as they download a file from the internet. Then the hunt begins. They go to their downloads folder and say, ‘Now what was that file called?’ Yes, the default view of your Finder or Windows Explorer is to sort by file Name. Instead, sort your Downloads folder by Date (most recent on top). This is my default view for my Downloads folder. I’m almost always interested in something I downloaded recently, not a random file name buried in the folder. By the way, this trick also works for other folders, like when you saved that file in your Leadership folder yesterday and then bolted out of the coffee shop to race home for dinner. Open your Leadership folder back up tomorrow and sort by date. It’ll magically surface to the top.

You’re all set. Now the only thing to decide is what to do with your extra free time!


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