It’s time to cut a few corners

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 21st December 2021

I don’t know about you, but I find the Ikea store layout devilishly clever but a bit frustrating. They have designed a one-way route that takes you past every department, every display and every product. Which is fine when you want to browse and are not sure exactly what you want. But I have often done my research already online, and want to get straight to that product, or possibly straight to the picking area to collect and pay for the product.

I reckon the key to Ikea is knowing where the little short-cuts are. Or if you are really clued in, the secret door that, like a ladder in snakes and ladders, brings you straight to where you want to go. That is gold!

I try to apply the same thinking to my document filing folders on my PC, or on OneDrive. Unlike my email filing folders, where I only operate with one folder (as the search function in MS Outlook is all I need to find things), I still find I need folders to organise my documents outside of Outlook. For me, the search function in Windows is not as nuanced as that in Outlook, so folders are required to bring some order. I keep these folders to a minimum though.

When it comes to accessing documents, I see people who click through directory after directory, level after level, to get to the folder that holds the document they want. And this is like wandering the pathway in Ikea. It is taking the long way around, when all you want to do is get to the folder you know you need.

So, I try to create as many shortcuts to my documents as possible. I work on the Pareto principle with my folders and believe that we tend to access 20% of our folders and documents 80% of the time. So, I have created shortcuts to these folders in OneDrive by right clicking on them and adding them to my Quick Access Toolbar.

I also use an archiving strategy to hide rarely used folders. I have about eight main header folders in OneDrive for things like Financials, Program Development, Presentations etc… Each of these header folders will have some sub-folders that store the actual documents. I have created a folder in each of the main header folders that I have called ‘Archive’ so that I can dump any old, lesser used folders or documents into this space, and therefore keep my core folders lean and mean. Just to be really clear, I have simply named this folder Archive, it is not an automatic archive like you have in your mailbox for emails. But the concept is still the same – don’t clutter up your working space with old, less relevant information.

Taking the time to think about what information you need access to most frequently and setting up your system to provide quick access is worth the effort. And by the way, if you do go to Ikea, look for the secret door just behind the wardrobe section. It is a winner!

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