Okay, I admit that do not have the best organizational system on my computer. I start off okay, in theory, but then I get sidetracked by years of poor computer habits and I start to feel overwhelmed and I have no idea where to start. So I’m throwing it out there to the Universe to help me get some ideas on how to attack this mess. Warning, some of this will make you organized folks groan in pain. But I hope you’ll read it anyway and tell me how YOU handle this organizational situations.

Here’s what I have:

1. Way too many folders. I have a really bad habit of storing current things I’m working on, need to do, interesting things I find, all on my desktop. Then when the desktop starts to look cluttered I drag everything into a folder called desktop October or desktop June or whatever. It seemed like a good idea about 4 computers ago but then of course what I end up with is a giant mess each with a different month. Right now they go across several years. And inside each of these folders there may or may not be more folders with more obscure names. And when the desktop gets full of each of these monthly folders I drag them into the junk drawer where the file names get longer and longer because everything is so many folders deep. I don’t even know how to begin to sort through them all.

Current plan: Dump everything in one big folder and just start going through piece by piece.

Other suggestions?

2. Photos, gobs and gobs of photos. When I download pictures from my camera, which could be none for a month and then could be a bunch several times a day if I am shooting the garden or an event, I just dump them into a folder on my desktop where they eventually get dragged into the monthly folders and/or the junk drawer. And then of course I start editing them and messing with them and I have those copies in there. I’ve tried Picassa because I like it for a quick fix of a photo but for some reason I can’t navigate the structure as easily as I would like. And I can’t easily just navigate to a file and open a single photo. But the latest version has face recognition so I was thinking of using that to help sort in some ways, at least to find all the pics of my grandson. I also think I need some massive photo gallery browse type of program but I’m not sure what to use. The browse/gallery in Fireworks doesn’t seem to do it for me. Feels clunky.

Current plan: Dump all the photos into one big folder and just start going through them one by one. How to organize them? By date doesn’t seem to work for everything. Great for the garden but not so much for odd pictures here and there. Seems like a topical filing system would be best. One for family, friends, my garden, garden inspiration, etc?

Other suggestions?

3. PDFs and Doc files all over the place. At one time I had the bright idea to just drag all the doc files and text files and PDF files into their own folders and then just slowly start working my way through them, looking at them all to decide if I should keep them, file them, or toss them. I’m not sure if this is good idea to revisit or not. (Note, this does not include my writing which is very well organized in a folder of its own.)

Current plan: Create a folder for each file type, doc, pdf, txt, Excel. Sort through them one by one.

Other suggestions?

4. Idea folders. Places where I keep ideas to write about or blog about or things to buy or places to go. But there are so many of them and all over the place that of course I can’t find them when I want to. I wonder how other people keep track of these sorts of things?

Current plan: Create a top level set of folders called,  to do, to blog, to buy, to read, to write. Add items to these folders as I find them. Also need to set up matching tags (and use them religiously) in both Google reader and Delicious as well as in the physical file cabinet so I will always know where to put these things.

Other suggestions?

5. Copies of webpages that had good info I wanted to remember. Tons and tons of saved webpages. Now I know I should use either Delicious or Evernote or just bookmark them in Firefox with tags. So do I revisit each of them and start from scratch? Probably. And probably Evernote so that I can keep a copy of it in case the web page disappears. The pain of going back to each of those. Is there ever a reason when keeping a copy of the webpage on my computer is the best choice?

Current plan: As I find these web pages on my computer I’ll revisit the actual page and either Evernote it or tag it in Delicious. Not sure which would be best.

Other suggestions?

I know this isn’t going to happen very fast. It takes time to go through each piece of data on the computer but I think it’s the only way I’m going to be able to get a handle on it, just like taking all the files out of the physical file cabinet and going through them paper by paper. I need to set up some top level folders that mimic my physical folders. And then I just need to apply myself to it a little bit each day.

I’d love to hear how the rest of the world organizes their computer filing system. Please share. And I’m wide open to any suggestions on how I should attack my own electronic mess.