The other day, one of my friends gave me a very strange compliment, saying how much they liked how I organize digital files on my computer for my college classes. At first, I thought their comment was super bizarre, because I didn’t think I did anything special for organizing my files, but then I decided to look at how they organize their files and how confusing it was to find anything. Here is how I organize files on my computer for my college classes and how I can find any file in two minutes or less.
Where I Store Files on My Devices
While I have some friends that have strict loyalty to one tech brand or operating system, that’s not the case for me- I have two Windows computers, an Android phone, an iPad, and frequently use Mac and Linux computers in my data science classes. Because of this, I store all of my files on Microsoft OneDrive, because I love how the OneDrive app works across all of these devices. I also chose OneDrive because I primarily do my homework on a Windows computer and love how easy it is to integrate. I pay $1.99 a month for increased storage on my OneDrive, which gives me plenty of room for everything.
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Begin with Foundation Folders
When I first start to organize files, I make these basic folders to store information I do not immediately need, so I can focus on stuff that matters later on. Here are the foundation folders that make up my OneDrive:
Since many of the classes for my minor in assistive technology overlap, I put all of the files from my assistive technology classes into this folder. This also includes copies of any papers that I write for other classes that are about assistive technology or visual impairment that I could use for a future assignment- for example, I included my final paper from Advanced English Composition about audio description in theater.
Computational Data Science
For my data science major, I put files from classes I already finished into this folder so I can reference them if needed. I have folders for each of the classes and typically drag them into this folder at the end of the semester.
OneDrive automatically organizes my Pictures folder since images taken on my phone and iPad automatically backup to this folder. This is also where images from Microsoft Office Lens are added.
This folder contains reference documents or old classwork from classes that are not related to assistive technology or data science. When I changed my major, I kept a lot of files from my old classes in here, which turned out to be pointless since I never looked at them. So off to the recycling bin they went. I did keep folders from my composition classes and a couple of electives though.
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For each of my classes, I make a folder with the class code on it- for example, I have a folder called “CDS 130.” Any classes that I am taking are displayed front and center on my OneDrive, not in the Computational Data Science folder or any other folders. Depending on the class, I organize by topic, time, or by file type- more detailed explanations below.
Organizing by Topic
For my database programming class, the professor divided our work by four different unit names, so I created corresponding folders for each unit name. This was helpful because we would frequently have to reference concepts we learned in a particular unit, and I could easily search the labeled folders for the information.
Organizing by Time
My Java programming class was divided into three sections based on what point we were at in the semester. The professor would reference items we learned in section 1 or section 2 of the class and encourage us to find information that way. I also used this method in high school for organizing assignments from each quarter of the school year.
Organizing by Type
For one of my data science classes, assignments were divided into categories such as weekly activities, in-class exercises, and module activities. I kept a folder with labels for each assignment within the class folder, and would put assignments in their appropriate section. Since that class had a large amount of files, this worked perfectly.
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Naming Conventions for Files
Unless the professor has a different required naming convention (I’ve only had one professor where this was the case), I use the same naming convention when saving my files to their folders:
Class Name + Assignment Name + My ID
(My program requires students to put their student ID at the end of file names due to the sheer number of computer files that professors receive)
So for example, my 6th homework for my CDS 293 class will be written as CDS293_Homework6_Vlewis
Another trick I have is saving my files the moment I create them in Microsoft Word, to avoid any disasters with forgetting to save a file, or saving the file under a different name.
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I love how organized all of my computer files are, because it means that I can easily stay on track of my assignments and classes and never worry about the computer eating my homework. I hope this post helps you organize your own files and start the new semester nice and organized!