Folder Structure for Digital Reference and Project Support

Josh Mitchell

Hi friends,

I am curious what other methods you know of in how to structure digital folders (buckets). Looking for some inspiration!

For the past year I've been using these folders
  • Inbox
  • Clients
    • Client Name
      • Active Project
      • Support Material
      • Etc
  • Reference
    • A-Z reference of anything/everything

I'm considering this revision/tweak, but curious of other methods or ideas that you may know of...
  • Inbox
  • Clients
    • Client Name
  • Clients Reference
    • Client Name
      • Reference material for that client
  • General Reference
    • A-Z
  • Financial

Here are a few I have found so far...

GTD-inspired (found in the forum)
0. Inbox
1. Actions
2. Review
3. Current Projects
4. Archive

  • Projects
  • Areas
  • Resources
  • Archive

David Sparks Method:


  • Artwork
  • CLE
  • Insurance
  • Recommendation
  • State Bar
  • Admin
  • Agreements
  • Corporate
  • Disputes
  • Email
  • Notes
  • Proposals
    • Drafts
    • Final
    • Media Assets
  • Formation
  • Minutes
  • Book Scan
  • Secretary of State
  • Banking
  • Income
  • Expenses
  • Tax
  • Corporate
  • Litigation
  • Transaction
  • Corporate
  • Litigation
  • Transaction

  • Car 1
    • Registration
    • Repair
    • Service
  • Car 2
    • Registration
    • Repair
    • Service
  • Statements
  • Correspondence
Credit Card
  • Statements
  • Correspondence
  • Spouse
  • Child
    • Art
    • College
    • High School
  • Autos
    • Statements
    • Correspondence
  • Health
    • Statements
    • Correspondence
  • Life
    • Statements
    • Correspondence
  • Appliances
  • Cars
  • Technology
  • Toys
  • Names of family members
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • Cable
    • 2018
    • 2019
    • 2020
  • Electric
  • Gas
  • Water

In a recent webinar I saw that Coach Kelly had folders on the desktop:
  • Coaching Handouts
  • Coaching Reference
  • Coaching Worksheets
I would have probably put all of these in Coaching Reference - but was intrigued to see them separated. I need to get better at clean edges and curious what others have found helpful. I know there are some older posts on this topic.


Learning and practicing, and then practicing more
John - I think your lightweight folder system is solid, and if Financial is important enough to you to be split out, then go for it.

I may be in the minority here, but I have recently shifted to a pretty lightweight format that isn't typical of GTD.
  • years
    • 2021
      • author
      • backup
      • code
      • documents
        • career
      • history (basically archive, but a was already taken by 'author')
      • media (anything worth saving that I found on the internet; critical irreplaceable media like family photos stored elsewhere)
    • 2020
    • etc.

This structure, which I re-create every New Year (or sooner, if I have a major life shift, like a new job or a new computer, or am just in a new place mentally/emotionally) serves me well; structured enough to know where to put stuff, lightweight enough to not feel bogged down with 'where does this go?'. Also, the fact that it goes archived and re-created every year helps me from building up cruft; if I need to find something that isn't in a current year's folder, it probably is in last year's.

I should also mention that anything currently being used come New Years is copied forward to the next year's folder structure.

I've used an inbox folder in the past, but as it's one more place to check, I tend to try to just file stuff right away.

Eager to see how others operate. I've never had enough stuff for A-Z in digital; I have an A-Z filing cabinet for some important life stuff, but most of it lives in my bank, brokerage, medical doctor, etc. -- and I sometimes make backup copies of important stuff and store it as noted above.

Josh Mitchell

Thank you nickmay for sharing.

Anyone just joining... I'm curious what categories come to mind that are good "parent" or "sub-parent" categories. They might seem obvious to you -- but might be genius to someone else!

I understand once you're in a sub-parent category, it's very individualized and specific to the topic.

MacSparkys use of "correspondence" and "statements" are two great breakouts...

For coaching, I like that Kelly uses handouts, reference, worksheets...

Are there other categories like this that have been helpful for your organizing and retrieval?

Particularly those who are freelancers, business owners, coaches and consultants...


I am curious what other methods you know of in how to structure digital folders (buckets). Looking for some inspiration!
I use a very simple structure
From the very top of my user directory:
There are a buunch of folders that are system related

Also at this top level there are a bunch of folders related to specific software packages so not filing per se

Then we get to the useful one
Calibre Library - collected e-book files​
DWA_Data - this is my main personal filing and generally the place I start at and consider the top of my structure​
  • 2021_Oogie_Pictures - temp holding place for photos until I import into Lightroom and move the image files onto my NAS server
  • 2021_Other_Peoples_Pictures - temp holding place for pictures I receive that I want to save as above
  • ABWMSA_File_Cabinet - for my work as an officer of the American Black Welsh Mountain Sheep Association
  • NFHS_File_Cabinet - for my work as a BOD member of the North Fork Historical Society
  • TDRC_File_Cabinet - for my work as an officer of the Terror Ditch and Reservoir Company
  • Active Projects - this is the place for current active project support and also a folder for documents I edit really often for personal and farm stuff
    • _AnimalTrakker
    • _LambTracker_DB_Design
    • 1_Personal_Update_Files
    • 2_Farm_Update_Files
    • 3_Oogie_Picture_Catalog - my Lightroom database and supporting folders
    • 4_NFHS_Picture_Catalog - Historical Society glass plate negative Lightroom database and supporting folders
    • 5_Waiting_For - files or folders that are part of a project where I am waiting for more info
    • 6_Action_Support - single files related to a specific action or project If there is more than 1 file for a project I create a folder
    • 7_Print_on_color_printer - pictures or documents I need to print on the color printer. I groupp them so I can batch them and not leave the printer running all the time
    • 8_Zotero_Needs_Manual_Entry - scientific papers where I have the PDF but there was no DOI so I can't use Zotero's automatic add. Grouped so I can do them as a batch
    • Then come the files for current active projects like the following. I have 79 folders here
    • AnimalTrakker_Bull_Test_App - notes and info from the customer for this custom version of AnimalTrakker
    • AnimalTrakker_Registry_Desktop_app - notes and info on my progress on this app
    • Canadian_Semen_Import - for documents related to the project to collect and import sheep semen from our flock in Canada
    • Grassroots_Bugs - documentation of the current registry SW issues and the company's responses
    • Glass_Plate_Negatives - for the scanning of the glass plate negatives project
    • Python_Programming - examples and notes on libraries I need for my AnimalTrakker project
  • Bookpedia - for my library database
  • File_Cabinet - my A to Z set of reference folders and also any folders related to someday/maybe projects or completed projects
    • Art
    • Equip-Bobcat_E-42
    • Cattle
    • Sheep-Genetics
    • Sheep-Mineral_Recipes
    • Sheep-Shearing
    • Utility-DMEA
    • Weaving
    • and so on
  • Other folders related to specific SW packages like a Zoom folder and so on

I split a folder in the File_Cabinet when I feel it has a subset of stuff that makes sense to collect together. With very few exceptions the File_Cabinet folder is only 1 layer deep.