Sunday, April 6, 2014

Organizing Your Files with Dropbox

How to Organize Your Files with Dropbox 
Dropbox is a great tool for staying organized and accessing your data from anywhere, but it can become different to find what you need if your files become cluttered. Included are some simple ways to organize your files, and save yourself from unnecessary work and stress in the future! 

*If you don't have Dropbox, see my previous post, or visit the link above and download the program for free! 

*These tips apply for other file organization as well

First you need to install Dropbox, and then create a subset of folders within your main Dropbox folder. You can name these whatever you want, but the general idea is to have 4-6 main folders, and not to go too deep into sub-folder territory (folders within folders within folders, etc.) 
This is what my main Dropbox folder looks like: 

The "Big 4" Folders
1. Current Projects/Material 
You first need a current folder--important materials that you are working on or referring to frequently. This is where you will spend much of your time, updating it often with new material. This is where you keep all of your working files for your current class assignments, papers, projects, to-do lists, etc. 
  • Sub-Folders for Current Projects/Materials: 
    • One folder for each of your current courses 
  • Keep 2-3 Sub-Folders for each course: 
    • One folder for class materials--such as the syllabus, additional readings, assignments, project outlines, etc. 
    • Keep another folder for the actual assignments, papers, and other homework you are working on, or have finished 
    • Lastly, keep a folder for your class and reading notes 
When the semester is over, you should move all of these folders into the next big folder, The Archive. (In my Dropbox, my archive would be the "GRAD SCHOOL" folder since I am no longer taking classes. Currently, I am working on my thesis, and research at the Voinovich School, which are two sub-folders under my "Current Projects" folder). Below is my VS folder with the projects that I am working on for my research position.

2. The Archive 
Here is where you keep all the important materials that you are no longer working on, but you may need to refer to in the future. After each semester, you want to clean your "Current Projects/Materials" folder and put most of it in this folder (cut and paste the folders). You should make a list of folders organized by Year and Semester, as in the picture below. 

This makes referencing easy--and this can be helpful especially if you take similar classes (which you will!) in the future and want to refer to old notes and/or papers. 

3. Side Projects 
This folder is for things that you work on in your spare time, but are not currently your top priorities. Maybe you are trying to learn to code, or you blog in your free time, or are working on some side research--these are all projects that you undertake in your spare time. 

4. Miscellaneous
What you put in here can easily be separated from your more important or currently relevant school materials. I personally keep a folder "Pictures" which I organize pictures that I use for scrapbooks that I have. I also have a folder for online payments and receipts (I use the Snipping Tool on Windows 8 to save them).  

TIP: Make sure to give your files relevant names when saving your files for the first time (so you don't have to go back and rename them in the future). Try to keep them as short as possible while making it easy to decipher what is in that file. This applies to all material you download as well--PDFs often come with obscure file names, and it can be difficult sifting through many PDFs just to find an article you wanted to reference. 

**Overall, you can make folders for whatever purposes suit your needs, but the general idea is to keep them organized with relation to topic and to current/past, important/not-so important materials. 

Additional Resources: 

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