Simple Work Flow Tips to Make File Management a Breeze

A hard disk drive with the platters and motor ...Image via WikipediaOur students are digital. Many of them always have been and most of them always will be. Their future is full of files - tons of them - that they could keep indefinitely.

As their life flows we need to help them have a work flow that makes sense and helps them easily manage their files and know what to throw away and what to keep.

"Unbounded data streams tend  towards irrelevance." 
Mark Hurst,  Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload

I have felt a compelling need to help my students with file management. They cannot find things on their jump drive - or was that on their home computer - or their ipad? Where? It is time to help them get organized. My first week, instead of teaching them how to build their PLN/ igoogle page is instead on setting up the cloud functions and file management workflows to help them thrive.

Here is the tip they like the most!

Workflow Plan for Documents
Gina Tripani in LIfeHacker came up with this one (From her book Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better but there is now an updated book with Adam Pash Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better that I haven't read yet. )

Have 3 file folders in Documents (my students also have a "personal" folder in Dropbox for their cloud files where they do this as well.)

@junk drawer

It starts with the @ sign to put the folder at the top.

The active folder is for what you're working on right now - that is it! When you're done, you pick one of the other folders to move it to.

These are things you want to keep. For my students these are resumes, term papers, movies. The things they want to take with them after the course. Also anything that they wish to keep in a efolio to show a future employer.

These items are things they created for class but after the semester or course that they don't want to keep.

Then, at the end of the semester or term they can delete junkdrawer items, take the archive with them. They are also doing this at home and their @rchive items are going to go on their external hard drive.

Everything should just be 3 clicks away! This great trick is a beauty!

Creating a Self-Cleaning Machine
For Advanced users

If you use this procedure personally and have a Mac, you can use Hazel. If you have a PC you can use Belvedere. I have Belvedere go through my junk drawer  and ask me if I ant to delete what I haven't used in 6 weeks. I also have it archive my archive folder onto my external hard drive at certain intervals.

There is more on how to do this at Lifehacker as well.

Think about workflow and file management before you have the students create all those files. We need to help them build a digital legacy and part of that is knowing what to keep and to delete.

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