I’ve often been asked how it is that I seem to fly through my computer so rapidly, finding every file I need with seemingly, very little effort. Honestly, it’s because I hate having everything everywhere and have spent a lot of time organizing things in such a fashion that works well for me. As with most material and ideas on this blog, this is what works for me, your mileage may vary.
The screen shots you’ll see in this post are of a series of folders that I’ve created based on the exact working folders that I use. The content of them, for the purposes of this blog, is fictitious. As well, I’ve chosen to display everything in “column” view so that you can get a better idea of what folder lead to what.
I think of every file I own as fitting into one of really just a few categories. Those categories, as I’ve determined them, are Business Documents, Event Documents, Personal & Music. As you’ll see in the following screen shot, those exist, as well as a few others that, because I access them so frequently, it’s worth having them accessible from the main folder.
Next is how I keep track of all event information. Whether you use DJ Event Planner, DJ Intelligence®, eWebmin, etc, I imagine you’ve still got some files for each event on your computer. This is where all of that information is stored for me, in a quick and easy to access manner organized by event date. The folders which are only named by date (and nothing else), represent Saturdays for which I am not booked yet. For instance, out of the 5 Saturdays in January for 2015, I only have 1 of them booked, leaving 4 still open. Yes, this doubles as a calendar for me. As 2015 or 2016 events start to book in, I’ll take 10 minutes and create a folder for every Saturday in that calendar year. This helps me very quickly, at a glance, check on my availability. These make up my client event folders.
In the sample folder below, you’ll see that within the “Business Documents” folder, there are many folders that all have to do with the operation end of my business. In my actual working folders, I have a few more specific folders in my “Business Documents” folder, but these 9 folders should work to categorize 80 – 90% of the documents an average DJ would use (for “business”). I’ve populated a few of them with sample folders to further illustrate how the organization continues as we get deeper into the folder structure. As I attend a lot of different seminars, workshops, conferences, etc. I like to have a central place to keep all information on eduction that I’ve attained.
Whenever I receive shared information from a DJ colleague, I will save it within a folder named after them under the “Peer Information” folder. This way I never loose what someone might send me and can always quickly reference it if/when needed in the future. Any training or resource material that I’ve paid for or witnessed in a more formal setting such as a seminar or conference, is filed under my main “Education” folder as opposed to the “Peer Information” folder.
Keeping track of all vendor information is really important for me. In addition to maintaining information on all specific vendors individually (photos, service information, etc.) I also maintain a spreadsheet as named “Vendor Info & History”. That document lists EVERY vendor that’s ever been involved in a wedding that I’ve been a part of over the last 2-1/2 years. It is a great resource to me as it also notes which weddings we’ve worked on together. This is extremely valuable for helping my clients find additional vendors if they need.
Looking at the next screenshot shows you the inside of my “Office” folder. A lot of varying information is contained within this. Essentially, what would normally exist in a common office (regardless of the specific line of work), is in this folder. This is the “nuts and bolts” so to speak. I keep everything from multiple years of financials, to varying letter templates, to all software backup installation files, unique fonts I’ve purchased, copies of receipts for warranty purposes, etc. Even if I find myself addressing an envelope to the same address with regular frequency (I don’t hand address envelopes, they’re all printed), I’ll save a unique folder template for it under the “Common” folder you can see here (I mail cheques to a local printing company 10 – 15 times a year, this would qualify as one worth having it’s own envelope template).
With my main “Events” folder, one would expect to see the folder labelled “2014 Events”, “2015 Events” and “2016 Events” sitting inside here. I don’t do that simply because I access those folder with such a high frequency, it’s easier to have them displayed in the main folder. As events are completed though, their folder is moved into the appropriate years folder under the “Past Clients” folder. This allows me to quickly reference a folder of material from a September 2012 wedding (for example) without any trouble of remembering where something might be (which I often will during a consult as I allow prospective wedding couples to share in past wedding experiences I’ve been a part of).
Now we get to a VERY commonly accessed folder (again, if it weren’t for the frequency with which I access this folder, it would normally sit under the “Event Documents” folder). In this folder, to aid in the speed with which I want to be able to navigate it, folder are numbered and named. This way, no matter what the folder names are, the folders are displayed in an order that makes logical sense for me (“Inquiries” is obviously the first stage of working with a wedding whereas, “Follow Up” would likely come after the event). Within those folders, my files are quite often numbered and named even more. Again, this allows me quicker access to things in an order that makes sense to me (your brain might think different then mine!). When a new client folder is named (as you saw in the second screenshot from above), the appropriate files from the “3_Planning” folder as displayed here, are duplicated into the client event folder.
Lastly, as a small time saver, when a client event folder is created as displayed in the second screen shot above, a set of folders (as shown inside the below “Folder Structure” screenshot) are duplicated into the client even folder in question. While this might seem like a small thing, it’s a great little timesaver for me and keeps a consistent look to all of my client event folders so that when I open one, I am quick to recognize where documents might be, regardless of the client folder I happen to be working within at the moment.
That wraps up a small glimpse into my folder structure and where EVERY major, important and permanent file in my computer resides. Remember though, just because it works for me, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Hopefully some part of this will help you a little though.
As a bonus for reading this blog, I’ve actually put together a blank Folder Structure Template for DJs that you can download by clicking here. In this download are simply a bunch of folders organized according to what I described above, a Vendor Info & History spreadsheet template and a few PDF files explaining certain parts of the structure and what you might place within those areas. I’ve also created a starter folder (as displayed in the second screen shot above) for every Saturday that remains in this year and next year!
This is a download via Dropbox, so please click on the blue “Download” button near the top right part of the window that opens up. You’ll be given the option to download the folders as a zip file or add them to your existing Dropbox account (for current Dropbox users). Please let me know if you run into any issues.
I’d love to know if you do something similar or what other ideas you might have for making my folder/file life more organized. Contact me here or better yet, post your comments or suggestions below.
For your free download of all documents and email templates mentioned on this website and to stay updated with future blog posts and downloads, please enter your name and email here: