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Being an organized designer requires constant effort, but the payoff is greater productivity.

By Angela Cho

Organizing your digital work environment takes persistence, but it can exponentially increased your productivity. A good system of organization makes for faster project turnovers and more deadlines met. If you think your personal organization is just your problem, consider this: your project may eventually pass into other designers or developers who will use the files for their own purposes. Passing off a mess of files to them will cause them undue frustration and may even spoil your chances of landing future projects. Here are a few of my personal tips for those of you looking to turn over a new (and I hope orderly) leaf.

Folder Organization

Organizing your folders is the first step to getting a grip on your files.

1. Separate your workspace from your personal files, dedicate a hard drive or partition if possible
2. Create a logical structure of nested folders and subfolders
3. Sample structure: Workspace > Clients > Client Name > Job number > Images, Documents, Screenshots, Source files, Project Files (> indicates subfolders).
4. Continuously archive old files to keep your attention focused on your current projects

File Naming

A consistent file naming system is also very important.

5. Keep files names in lower case alphabet or numbers.
6. Use underscores or dashes instead of spaces (these first two points prevent compatibility issues).
7. Adopt a detailed naming system with more than one descriptor tag. Sample structure: [Short Description]_[Date: ie, ddmmyy]_[Number Sequence]. Example: kittensatplay_240407_05.
8. Add a second or third descriptor when necessary, such as version tag (i.e. file v1, v2, etc).

This short take on organization is meant to give you a general understanding of some conventional techniques, but it’s your job to find what works best for you and your client. Keeping an ordered workspace requires constant effort, but don’t be discouraged, as the seconds you spend readying your files today will save you hours when you go to use them in the future.

Angela Cho is a graphic designer for Shutterstock.

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