How to organize your Google Drive to save your sanity

We’ve all been looking forward to it since April, but to really set yourself up for success is to make sure your tech is set up the way you want and that your Google Drive is in check. It keeps (many of) us sane with workflows, job interaction and search files, and creative assets, and is a fundamental tool for educators of all sorts right now. Here are just a few key suggestions to set yourself up right in Google Drive for an efficient 2021.

Choose consistent naming conventions

Throughout the years, I have found that I am set up for success when I choose a specific naming convention or way to store everything from the get-go. Before moving forward with anything else, decide how you’re going to name your files moving forward. Are you working with several clients, and therefore need to create a shared folder for each? Does your department deal with recurring clients or one-off projects, and will those naming conventions reflect what is recurring vs. not?

For company work, I would set up a folder named after your company. Then, you can choose which items to share within it or have an entire subfolder for “assets due,” whether you’re auditing, creating digital media or design assets, writing website copy, or anything else. This is where your managers or account holders can go to see the work for approval, or funnel it to the next processing level. Many people choose to track the work they do by date as well, so if you feel more comfortable, a popular naming convention would start with the year and then date, then the client or company’s name, i.e. “20201008BurgerKing”. This way, you can search for the date you were working on it or by company name or asset, all in the name of efficiency.

If you choose to go back through your drive and rename files and folders, keep in mind that links to those may change. If you’ve created assets or processes that link to other docs within the folder (i.e. a writing style guide that also links to a content calendar in Google Sheets), you’ll want to go into those documents and make sure the links haven’t broken. To rename anything in your Google Drive, right-click on its name and click “rename.”

Add descriptions, especially for consistent work or similar projects

If you haven’t chosen a naming convention that specifies the date, or you aren’t as familiar with the client’s voice, each folder and file has an extra notes section. Here, you can “Add a description” that will help you remember the project faster, remind you where it goes after the fact, or a number of other notes you may need regarding it. Adding a description makes the doc more easily searchable in Drive as well, so it’s a win/win to know that it exists.

To access descriptions on each file or folder, simply click it once in Drive. Then link the “i” or “View Details” icon located on the top right of your window. Scroll down, and you will see information like the date the file was created and who has access to it. (Which can help keep you from writing notes in the margins about Stacy if she’s been shared on the project.)

Color code Google Drive folders

Here’s another fun tip that will greatly benefit highly visual, organized people. Google Drive actually has the option to color-code your folders, which can help some people find things quicker or get into the zone with their audience more efficiently. At the very least, it’s a simple and fun way to keep things a little less khaki-colored in your Drive.

To change the color of the folder from Drive, right-click on the folder you’d like to change. Click “Change Color,” and select the color from the palette. (Try to avoid these colors in your workspace.) Feel free to incorporate the file’s color into your spreadsheets and processes created here too. (If you can make work more vibrant, why not?)

Use the Priority feature

Many of us work on a few key projects at a time. For that, utilizing Drive’s “Priority” feature could come in handy, as it helps to identify your most-used files and brings them to the front for easier access/search. If you click “Priority” above “My Drive” in the left margin, you’ll see that Drive has already chosen your most-used – or most recently used – items and filtered them into the folder. But you can create workspaces just below to mirror your current needs. This comes in handy especially for those of us who don’t have the bandwidth to go in and re-organize our entire Drive right now.

Time to get rid of old habits, assess what needs to change, and organize and clean things up for a fresh start with the new year. Start with your Google Drive. You will be much happier with work because of it.