Saturday, December 31, 2011

Creating a New File and Folder Structure

Source: openclipart
My 2012 New Year's genealogy resolution is to better organize my family history files. Having learned about numerous organizational systems over many workshops from the past five years, it is time to choose one I think will work best for me, and use it consistently.

Currently I am using three different computers for my research. I originally bought an ASUS Netbook for dedicated family history work, but my eyes got tired of the small screen so I upgraded to a larger laptop. For my graduate work, I purchased a Mac Book Pro but decided to use it for my family history writing as well. What spurred my interest to organize is the silliness of using the desktop to store all my folders; there is just not enough room. So I weaned myself off of using my desktop to organize my files. Since I live by the adage, "out of sight, out of mind", to let go of this habit was quite an undertaking. But what I lose in sight I gain in structure.

The first step involved the management of files on the hard drive which meant moving all of my files to alphabetical folders in my Windows 7 Library (see image to the right). What I will try to do is use the same folder names in the alpha folders on my two other computers. If I had different structures on each computer, it would be silliness again.

What is great about using an alphabetical system is any file you store away is limited to the 26 lettered folders.  If you happen to not be able to find a file or folder by thinking how it was intially categorized, you can use the computer's key word search (called Spotlight on the Mac) to locate it quickly. Or you could always print a list of all the alphabetized files and folders.  You cannot go wrong if you file things logically and use the search feature as a backup.

There are many articles on the web for help with organizing files and folders. The information shared on CHNL initially got me interested in creating the alphabetized folders.