Five on Design  |  Episode 19  |  March 9, 2018

Keeping Digitally Organized

So you have a project that’s finally finished, and in usual fashion, you add final” to the end of the filename. just to make a note for your own records.

It’s as normal as seeing Untitled-01” in the new document window in Photoshop.

Of course it’s not really final” until there’s a few extra numbers and an OMG FOR REAL” in the filename. We’re all guilty of doing this and there hasn’t been a proper solution out there that’s stuck yet.

I’m putting some real work and though into how I organize my files and projects. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone through old projects or had to go back to something and wonder what I was thinking when I originally set it up.

The point was really driven home when I started my new job. I had to navigate the previous designer’s files, which were nothing short of a mess. I vowed I was going to get better at this so the designer that proceeds me won’t be swearing at me or wondering what I was smoking.

These days, every filename takes the same format: YYYYMMDD — Project Name.

It’s better than relying on the modified date stamp in the file. If new revisions come along, I can update the date and sort by the most recent file if I need to go back. If I need to grab a file I created on July 6, 2016, it’s super easy.

There’s another benefit to this system, too. Versioning control.

Similar to Github, it can be an effective undo button if I need it. As I work on a project over a few days, I can do a Save As and update the filename. It’s been a lifesaver on more than one occasion when I needed to take a giant leap back in a project and explore a different direction.

Being organized: it’s one of those things that’s a little bit more important than you think. By keeping things a little bit neater, even if it adds a few more minutes to some of my projects, is worth every bit of effort that I’ve put into it.

I encourage everyone to find out what your system is and make it work. Having a system can not only make your life better, but the lives of anyone else who also needs to dig through your files too.