There are as many ways to organize a Google Drive as there are people using the tool. I have recently encountered a number of people that don’t
organize them at all though. Seems ineffective at best. The following tips will help you develop a system for making Google Drive more organized and easier to navigate thereby making your workflow more effective.
1. Folder structure above all
File hierarchy is next to cleanliness which, of course, is next to godliness. The best place to start with Google Drive then is a well planned folder structure. An easy method for this is to create a folder for each category of document and then make subfolders for each aspect of that category. An “uncategorized” or “Misc” folder can house all the files that don’t fit into any of the other folders quite yet. It is important though to review the “uncategorized” or “Misc” folder regularly and sort its contents into appropriate (and labeled) folders when possible.
Within each subfolder it is a good idea to also create folders dated by week to keep track of when each document is created. This prevents any one folder from becoming too full and difficult to sort.
To create a folder when in Drive, click the blue NEW button and select the option for folder.
2. Get colorful
Google has always been a very intuitive and visual toolkit. Using almost exclusively primary colors, Drive is no different. It enables you to color code your folders for personal visual coding. This can help speed up your folder browsing considerably.
In the example below, each folder in Drive a different color and then each subfolder a different shade of that same color. The dated weekly folders within each subfolder are the same shade as the subfolder it is contained within. This way, if you’re looking at a folder labeled Sept. 5-11, you can instantly tell what types of documents are contained in it simply by glancing at its hue.
To change the color of a folder, click the arrow to the right of the folder name on the top bar, and then select the change color option.
3. Standardize folder/file naming
In the last year Google has added ‘Date created’ in the Info section within each folder/file. The date created information is useful on a number of levels and so should be included in folder/file naming rather than just being an information option.
I recommend naming each document as follows:
Then let the folder structure and color coding fall in line. For example, an invoice created on Sept. 6 would be thusly titled [9.6] Invoice XYZ. This makes the document easy to find whether searching for date or title.
To rename a document you already have in Drive, highlight the documents name and click the three vertical dots on the right side of the top bar. Then select Rename….
4. Sharing and Organizing
When a document is shared with you, it can be hard to locate because it is not automatically added to your “My Drive” folder. Make sure to add the file to the appropriate folder in “My Drive.” If it does not match your naming conventions, create a folder that fits the naming convention and add the shared file to that folder.
To add a document that is shared with you to “My Drive,” highlight the document in the Shared with Me folder and then click the three vertical dots on the right side of the top bar and select Add to My Drive from the dropdown menu.
Google Drive is an incredible resource and a great alternative to a pay-for-play cloud drive. The key is to use it in a streamlined fashion with caution, consideration, and thoughtfulness.