The clocks have sprung forward and the trees are starting to bloom here in California. As winter’s dust bunnies start to peek out from under our desks and dance in the afternoon sun that pours through our front office windows, the seasonal urge to spruce up the workspace begins to creep up on us before the official kickoff to Spring.
At AeroFS, we’re prepping for a new release of Amium and it happens to be the perfect time to tidy up not only our physical desktops but our digital workspaces as well. Naturally, we have a few tips to help you in your deep cleaning adventures. While the KonMari method may be great for maximizing the space in your sock drawer at home, we find these spring cleaning methods help maximize our team’s collaboration in shared folders.
- First Things First, Communicate with your Teammates
From a collaboration point-of-view, moving files around in shared folders can be disruptive to team members who may have their own methods for sourcing and saving files. It is important that everyone working in the same folders is aware of a newly implemented organizational structure and that only one person is responsible for relocating where the shared files live.Indicate to your team that the folder will be actively restructured and give them a timeline for when they can expect files to be in their final resting places (at least until the next purge). Team members should treat this time like a hazmat zone and not save anything new to the folders you’re actively cleaning.Once your folder hierarchy is set, provide the team with a structured visual of where things are and where/how to save new files.
- The Three Basket Sort: Working, Archive or Delete
When it comes to digital files, there are generally 3 baskets your documents would be sorted
into if they were in hard-copy format. Once you have the green light to start organizing the team’s shared files, spend a quick 20-minutes giving them a high-level scan and sort the contents into “working”, “archive” or “delete” folders which you will later focus more attention on individually.
A majority of your files will either fall into an archive or delete folder which will allow you to allocate the necessary time for a detailed review of your working files. Before deleting the contents of your “delete” folder, let your team scan it to make sure all items are ready to go to the recycling.
- Tackle your Working Files First
Active projects will temporarily live in your Working Files folder and from here you can delegate action items to your team members. Sometimes, file discussions are taken offline so if a file appears inactive for 30 days but the loop doesn’t seem to be closed (i.e. you’re unsure if it should be archived), tag the last collaborator and ask them to document the last activity of the file. In Amium, the file thread is a great place to summarize meeting notes and action items so everyone is on the same page with a file’s activity.Take your time with the working files and document those which need to be revived. As you sort your working files and folders back into their parent folder homes, you may come across files that are ready to be archived. Move them into the Archive file and deal with them in the next step.
- Archive Files with a Strict Naming Convention
Even if you have unlimited storage, it’s best to maximize the space available and archive no longer active files. At Amium, we had two rebranding projects within a one-year span and the child folders nested within our main Marketing folder read something like “AeroFS Old”, “AeroFS 2015”, “AeroFS New”, “Project Eyja” and “Amium”. Files within these folders were had similar names and long-story short, things just got really confusing. “AeroFS Old”, “AeroFS 2015 and “Project Eyja” (our internal name for the new product before we had a public name for it) are all considered Archive folders at this point, the contents of which we merged together into one Archive folder and then backed up to an external drive.For the purpose of keeping archive files in your shared folders, the only files that should remain are final versions of public-facing materials and files closed out of activity within the last 6 months. Try to phase files older than 6 months out of your shared folders and onto an external drive or into the trash on an on-going basis moving forward.If you’re still saving old versions of a file (Amium eliminates the need to), move them to your “Delete” folder or move from the shared folder to your personal workspace. Old versions just add to confusion about which is the right document, especially if they start reading “-final”, “-final-082516”, “-final-082516-really-this-time”.
- Delete, Delete, Delete!
This one just feels the best. Even if you’re the King or Queen of Saving Everything, deleting irrelevant files from a shared folder is the best way to cut the clutter and make your team more effective in collaborating. Back the files up to an external hard drive if you must, but get it out of your team’s day-to-day view.Back when you initially sorted the team files into the 3 baskets, you should have alerted your team to reviewing the “Delete” folder for any documents they may not think are ready for the trash, or they may want to keep for their own posterity. Give them a deadline for this – 24 hours should be ample time – with the ultimatum that files will be forever deleted if no response is received. Once the time to speak-or-forever-hold-their-peace has elapsed, do the job everyone else is afraid to do and just hit the delete button. If you’ve archived appropriately there should be no reason to be scared of deleting files, which were likely either dead or duplicated.
Try our preview release of the new Amium for advanced Archive features.
- Wrap it Up & Ship It
Give your team the gift of clean shared folders and be sure to send it off with a pretty bow on top.Once your cleaning is complete, notify the team of the folder hierarchy and appropriate naming conventions. It will take some time for everyone to get in sync with a new organizational system but once everyone is following the same strategy for filing and naming, collaboration will be a breeze.