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Organising computer

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  • Organising computer

    I spend most of my time on my computer, on account of my profession. I use Mac OSX or Linux as my OS. If you were to look at my machine you'd weep. While most areas of my life are well organised, my computer is a complete mess.

    I don't find the default directories that are set up in either OSX or Ubuntu helpful but nor have I worked out a useful approach myself. I'm also influenced by the idea that on a computer we should follow the 'search don't file' approach, as on modern systems every file is indexed automatically.

    Right now I wouldn't know where to start looking for most of my stuff. I can find it using spotlight, if I know what I am looking for, but frankly it's just a nasty mess.

    Any recommendations for an approach to keeping this stuff organised? How about just a simple alpha filing system? That could work, but boy would it take a long time to reorganise it. But then maybe that needs to be done anyway!


  • #2
    Faced with that problem, I'd do the following:
    1. Get everything into one folder
    2. Delete duplicates (there's bound to be some!)
    3. Sort by date, then put the very old files you want to keep in an archive folder
    4. Just carry on using Spotlight on the one data folder you now have

    Does that seem too onerous?

    Personally I file my stuff by Area of Focus folders and have done for 20 years, before I know what AOF was! However I'd agree that's pretty much redundant nowadays with Spotlight on the Mac and search in Win 7.


    • #3
      Thanks Steve,

      Yes that makes a good deal of sense. There are some clear boundaries - I program, so need to keep my code repositories somewhere separate, and I have a large number of clients, each of whom might be deserving of a directory, but your idea has simplicity and elegance on its side, and I could write a script to do it.

      I'm also influenced by what David said in a seminar about things being supplies, equipment, decoration or reference material. How might that break down:

      * Supplies - doesn't really fit
      * Equipment - well that's software
      * Decoration - I guess that's movies, pictures etc
      * Reference - everything else

      Apart from my code repositories which is my creative output so is somewhere between equipment (just software I write) and the actual output of what I do professionally.

      Interesting - thanks for your perspective.


      • #4
        Originally posted by LordCope View Post
        There are some clear boundaries - I program, so need to keep my code repositories somewhere separate, and I have a large number of clients, each of whom might be deserving of a directory, but your idea has simplicity and elegance on its side, and I could write a script to do it.
        I too am facing a massive reorganization plan on my computer. In addition to the detritus of 20 years of system upgrades, carrying along the various files across each new computer, operating system and revision, I have not done any significant programming work for over 10 years so my code library is useless except for historical purposes.

        What I am doing is I have put things into 2 basic segments. The new current sorted stuff, and everything else.

        I am setting up a single folder General Reference with a series of Folders within it for current reference filing. Documents don't get into there until I've reviewed, edited if necessary and decided its really a keeper.

        I also have 3 folders for the raw PDF scans of the paper files I am slowly shredding, one for us and one each for the 2 separate organizations I am an officer for. That way when I no longer am part of those organizations I can dump those files off to the next person easily.

        I have a single folder with my current used nearly every day active files, the sheep inventory, books owned and wanted lists, NaNo novel, current year Quicken files, current web site designs and the like.

        All else is in the amorphous stuff pile and is slowly being dealt with as Backlog. The Webinars on handling backlog were very helpful to me to understand I could corral the old stuff and start fresh while slowly processing it.

        Code segments I may actually use again (mostly web stuff) I am putting into a new DevonThink database so they are easier to find. Old stuff I did for computers and systems that no longer exist I am remembering and then letting go. Trashing most of them. A lot of the historical data for clients I used to work for is being scanned or collected into a folder with the clients name and the year I last worked for them. I haven't yet been able to delete a lot of it (I am a major packrat by nature) but I have a note to delete anything 15 years after I quit working for that client as by then it's useless.

        I have also managed to delete a bunch of stuff by adding to my life history timeline file. That file is just a simple word processing file (current one is in Open Office but it used to be in Word) that has the years in order and a one or 2 line note about major accomplishments with the date completed. So I've managed to allow myself to delete large chunks of old code and misc documents by putting a line in there for the date and a note about the big project I did or the fun thing I finished or whatever. If it's something I know will go into my scrapbooks I print it out and file it in the pending scrapbook stuff. Most of the computer things are not going to end up in the books.

        Another big one for me is to rename files so the filename tells me a lot about what is in there. I had a lot of screen grabs for various debugging projects I have been doing recently. They are named Picture1, Picture2 etc. Going back and re-naming them with what they show and collecting all the screen shots of particular problems into folders and then moving those into the General reference folder has also helped. So I have a folder DTTG Sync Errors with log files, screen shots and forum messages and notes about the issues with that. Once it is all working I'll probably delete that file.

        I am trying to spend about 30 minutes a day processing my computer file backlog.

        Hope that helps


        • #5
          Folder organization by areas of focus

          For several years, I have organized my active folder system by my Areas of Focus, and it has been pretty stable. For me, this means folders like Research, Teaching, Admin and Personal. Underneath these are projects. Recently, I have duplicated this structure into Active and Archive folders. So:

          Active: Research, Teaching, ....
          Archive: Research, Teaching,....

          As projects are done, I move them from Active to Archive. Reference material is generally in email, which I archive by academic year, Evernote, or in a database/reference manager program (for papers). Because I am not a great reference filer, my aim is to make filing quick, easy and natural, leveraging search.