At my first full-time job after college, I was the most informed when it came to all things computer and technology related, which, among other things, made me responsible for networking the computers in the office. My first job began in the days before Dropbox and similar programs/ services were available. Since the office I worked in was small (only one other computer using person and I at first) it was possible for us to get by just emailing each other the documents we were working on. This worked OK except that our non-computer using employer seemed to go out of his way to assign updates to be made to the documents we were working on to the person that didn't have the current version of the document on their computer. I could access the files on the other employee’s computer, which she knew I could do. I tried to teach her how to do the same to access files on my computer but I had to explain it verbally every single time, which threw off my train of thought and made email the better option. Plus, there was no accountability if a file was deleted or went missing and no quick way of establishing which of our documents was the most current. When we added more people the ability to quickly access the file on the other employee's computer because more time consuming because it could be in several places on either one of two computers.
Finally, I switched everything over to DropBox. Every document we used would live inside a single folder. A few dozen sub-folders would help to keep the tens of thousands of documents in some semblance of order.
My Hard Drive These Days
I took the lessons I learned about data management with me after I left that job. My hard drive these days has a single folder that takes up 90.1 GB of hard disk space in which there are currently 91 sub-folders that contain 86,238 files scattered across 10, 675 sub-sub (and lower down the nesting tree) folders. Some of these folders, i.e. "Pictures", "Movies", graphic design source files and some of the projects or things I'm not currently working on are stored separately on a 1.5 TB Western Digital external hard drive I bought for $99 in folders that use the same 91 names as the the sub-folders on my working hard drive so that, in theory, I could quickly merge them all and store everything on one hard drive.
Here are some of the 91 sub-folders that have titles which I feel comfortable sharing and in some cases a brief description of the contents of that folder. The rest either refer to specific people, i.e. the names of my parents, the name of some of the neighborhoods where I have lived in the past, or things/ projects:
· 00_Inbox – a folder that contains all of the stuff that would otherwise take up space on my desktop or in my Downloads folder. The items in this folder are to be sorted and kicked into one of the other folders or deleted when I have time.
· 01_Films – I added numbers to the more important/ frequently used folders
· 09_ReviewAndDelete – serves the same function as the 00_Inbox except that this one is called “09_ReviewAndDelete” to help ensure that nothing on this system is where it should be. Argh.
· Accounting – more boring
· Apartment Hunt
· Cache – files containing some of the quasi-impressive things I’ve accomplished in my life
· CellPics- no real reason these shouldn’t just be filed in the same Pictures folder as everything else except that I haven’t bothered to move them over yet
· Correspondence- this contains Words documents of both the physical letters I write and copies of their associated envelopes
· Directions – what’s the point in looking something up twice? When I look up directions online I save a copy here just in case I need to get somewhere and I don’t have access to the internet. This is also a bit of a holdover from my time at my first job where my employer didn’t use the computer and needed directions printed out for him.
· Disputes – I don’t get into a lot but whenever a situation arises that might find its way into a courtroom in this insanely litigious country we can still legally call the United States of America without fear of being sued for trademark infringement or libel yet, I believe it’s important to keep everything that relates to any disagreements that arise. If I ever get around to it I might share the story of two of these situations which both relate to scams involving trying to dupe those hunting for jobs.
· Entertainment – a collection of lists some of which have found their way onto the Clean Sheets and Dirty Girls site
· Famous Works of Art – should be merged with Photos
· Fitness – why is this different from Exercise?
· Flash Cards
· Food – contains recipes, grocery lists, menus and photos of food
· Goals – “Own your own house” doesn’t need to be written over and over again but at least with this folder I have a place to put such statements
· Hiking – moved along with Fitness into Exercise
· InstructionManualsAndDirections – instead of keeping tons of little booklets of different sizes for everything I take digital photos of them once, or get the .pdf copy from the manufacture’s websites, and recycle the original physical copy.
· Journal – The slightly more adult version of “I sat behind Samantha in class today. Her hair smells fresh like a green meadow the morning after a gentle rain if that meadow were also the spot where a crate full of products from Bath and Body works burst open after falling from a cargo plane high above.”
· MovingInformation – probably should be merged with ApartmentHunt into one HouseHunt folder
· Notes – why is this different from the Journal folder?
· OED – personal copies of some of the things I’ve looked up on the Oxford English Dictionary over the years
· OLD – stuff that there is no point in deleting entirely but doesn’t come up regularly
· PersonalInventory – What I would like to do is have a document or database that contains an entry for every single thing I own that includes the date I purchased it, what I paid for it, where it’s located (although this really is thinking ahead to a time when I have more living space it would still be nice to know, for example, that I have a big pack of AA batteries in a drawer before I go out and buy new ones). Also, I think such a list would help to suggest what I might need a new one of in case I see a sale on something. My hope is that such a list will help me to become a bit more of a minimalist by forcing me to track and therefore justify to myself after the time of purchase why I bought such a thing. I haven’t really gotten around to doing this project because to do it right would involve me picking up and photographing everything I own and moving things is a pain. Plus, I don’t have enough space right now in my tiny little room for everything to go anywhere but in piles and unpacking things and adding to that problem seems like a nightmare scenario.
· Photography Ideas –
· ReviewAndTrash – my goodness I’m bad at keeping everything in one Inbox
· Sites – backup copies of the websites I’ve created
· Sounds – contains sound effects ,which in my mind are different enough from music to warrant their own folder
· ToDoLists – #1 Empty To Do List folder
· Travel – information about possible destinations
· Wallpapers – setup to rotate every five minutes, which I find is long enough not to be distracting yet short enough that it’s usually different every time I glance at it.
· Wanted Items – helps me to justify buying anything I find out in the real world since I previously took the time to note it here and list a reason why it would be helpful. In theory this stops me from buying things I don’t need.