3 Enticing Ways To Improve Your Data Organization, Don’t Waste Time

While working on any project or task, the most important step is organizing all the data related to the project you are working on.

Why Organizing?

They can rapidly become disorganized once you build, accumulate, or start utilizing data and developing files. This is a task that should take top priority in your to-do list. You and your colleagues should discuss how you will name and organize files and directories to save time and avoid errors later on. You would be able to add context to your data by providing documentation so that you and others can grasp it in the short term, and medium to long term.

Same is the case with emails as email is increasingly used to store substantial documents and records, often with information related to the attachments inside the email itself. Aside from the obvious annoyance and time spent searching for that email you recall sending to someone last month, they can also be removed by accident without the correct controls in place.

If you delay the process of organizing your data , you are surely going to lose track of all the work you have done and it will consume much of your time and efforts finding the latest and final files or data.

Here, we have outlined the three main areas where organization of data is inevitable for efficient management of time and the practical tips to ensure optimal orderliness.

Selecting the best, concrete and practical way to label and arrange your documents helps you and others to identify and use them easily. Ideally, the perfect time to consider how the documents and directories you make should be called and organized is at the early stages of a project.

Conforming to a title display would help to offer continuity, which will make it easier to discover and remember the records efficiently, forestall type control problems when cohesively chipping away records. By encouraging you and your colleagues to find what you need when you need it, sorting out your documents strategically will save you time.

The need to set up a system that allows you to access your files, reduce complexity, and ensure that your data can be supported takes a little scheduling, whether you are working on a stand-alone computer or on a networked drive. Developing a logical folder structure is a good place to start.

The following tips should help you build a framework like this:

  • Utilize folders – group files in folders so that information about a specific subject is located in one location. 
  • Comply with existing procedures – check your team or department for established approaches that you can adopt.
  • Appropriately classify files – name folders according to the areas of work to which they contribute and not according to individual researchers or students. When a member of staff leaves, this eliminates chaos in the shared workspace and makes the file system easier to access with new members entering the workspace.
  • Be effective– It is important that you stick to it once you have agreed on a technique while creating a naming scheme for your directories. Try to settle on a naming strategy from the start of your research project, if you can. 
  • Hierarchical structure folders – begin with a limited number of folders for wider subjects, and then build more unique folders within these subjects.
  • Split existing and finished work – it is a good idea to start thinking about separating your older papers from those you are actually working on when you start to create loads of directories and files.
  • Try to hold your ‘My Documents’ folder for files that you are currently working on, and transfer the files that you are no longer operating on to another folder or location every month or so, such as a desktop folder, a special archive folder or an external hard drive. 
  • Backup– make sure your files are backed up, whether they are on your local drive or on a network drive.
  • Check documents – periodically or at the conclusion of a project, review materials to ensure that files are not kept needlessly. In your calendar, put a note so you don’t overlook!
  • Generating file name

At the start of your project, settle on a file naming convention. 

File names that are useful are: 

  • Coherent 
  • Relevant to you and your colleagues
  • Enable the file to be easily identified.

It is helpful if the following elements of a file name are agreed by your department: 

  • Vocabulary– pick a standard file name vocabulary, so that everybody uses a popular language 
  • Punctuation-decide on conventions to use punctuation marks, capitals, hyphens and spaces on when and when 
  • Dates-agree on the rational use of dates so that they are chronologically displayed, i.e. YYYY-MM-DD
  • Order – affirm which feature can go first, so that files are listed together on the same theme and can therefore be easily identified. 
  • Numbers – determine the amount of digits that will be used in the numbering process so that the files are numbered, e.g. 01, 002, etc.
  • Name your files incorporating the latest version

There are very few papers drawn up in one session by one person. More likely, many persons will be involved in the process and it will take place over a prolonged period of time. This can easily lead to uncertainty as to which version is the latest without sufficient controls.

To overcome this, a format is outlined below

  • Using the numbering scheme’ revision ‘. For example, v01 would be the first version, v02 would be the second version, and any significant changes to a file could be indicated by integer numbers. For instance, minor modifications can be indicated by increasing the decimal number, v01 01 indicates that a small tweak change has occurred to the first version, and v03 01 has made a minor change to the third version.
  • When draught data has been obtained for revision, they should bear additional details upon return to identify the person who made the adjustments. Example: A file with the name datav01 20130816 SJ suggests that on 16 August 2013, a colleague (SJ) made changes to the first version. Those modifications will then be added to version v01 by the lead author and rename the file after the numbering scheme for the revision.
  • Have an ‘error handling table’ alongside the required version number of the document for each significant document, listing updates and their dates. You may include the file names themselves, along with the version number, if helpful. 
  • Agree on who will complete the finals and classify them as ‘final.’

Most people these days regularly exchange loads of messages every day and, as a result, hundreds of personal and work-related emails can very easily congest their inbox. Setting aside some time to arrange your emails will ensure that information can be retrieved and safely stored quickly and easily.

There are a number of instant steps you can take to control the issue if your emails have gotten out of control: 

  • Get your old emails archived. Transfer them to a new folder named “History” if you have hundreds of emails lingering around from over a month ago. At a later date, you can still come back to these ones.
  • Go via your remaining email inbox now by email. Delete it when an email is useless. If not, ask yourself: is it ‘active’ – do you, or anyone else, need to take a concrete step, or do you just vaguely think it’s worth keeping? Transfer it to the archive if the latter.

To ensure your email stays structured in the long term, here are some specific steps: 

  • Remove emails that you don’t use. Delete from your inbox any trivial or old messages and send things on a regular basis.
  • To store messages, use directories. Establish a structured directory of files by subject, operation or project. 
  • Separate emails that are confidential. For these, set up a separate folder. Ideally, any personal emails to your work email address should not be sent.
  • Limit attachment use. To share data where possible, use alternative and more reliable methods (see ‘data sharing’ for options). Exercise version control and save large attachments to other sites, such as a network drive, if attachments are used.

By implementing these techniques you can surely save yourself and your colleagues’ lot of time and spare efforts to be put in other areas of the project.

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