Save time by naming your files logically.

Having one friend who is the author of a book called, “Stop Burning Money Wasting Time,” (Lany Sullivan) and another who is a systems analyst and designer (Deb Davis)  keeps me on my toes. They have great ideas for the big plans, life habits and business efficiency. Sometimes, I like to bring a simple time-saver to the table for those, “DUOH!” moments. This is one of those moments.

Most of us save files, import them from our phones, download attachments from many sources, for varied purposes. When it comes time to search for those files, chances are you spend a ridiculous amount of time remembering, A. where you saved it, and B. what you named it.

If you take a few moments at the time you save, download, import, or create a file to name it logically for the usual purpose you’ll need to find it, you can save a tremendous amount of time.

Here are some examples of naming conventions based on future use that work for me:

1. time sheets, access files, quick code tips.

time related:

the date to be easily searched 20150107 (Western date format since that’s where I am). This applies to show transcripts for podcasts – I name all items related to that show with the date first_showname_guestlastname – this keeps all materials for that show in one place and easily sorted and found. This includes headshots from the guest, transcript files, scheduled tweets, embed code, etc. 20140107_slmaradio_embedcode.txt, etc. I keep them all in their topic folder: SLMARadio/Shows

client notes:

  • Kept in the clients folder, but still name it clientname_accessinfo, or clientname_2015_medianotes, etc.
  • code tips – since I’m a geek:
  • javascript_currentdate.txt, css_dropshadow.txt, etc. It’s in my code tips file and I can easily sort it.

2. images – photos are different than icons, which are different than vector graphics.


Assuming this is not for a specific client, I keep my photos from my camera and phone by date with a quick description: 20140718-camping-capelookout/ the images in there are all related to that trip. If there are specific stand out photos I’ll want to use for client concepts, blog posts, I make a copy and rename them with the thought: potentialblogpohotos/sunset_capelookout.jpg, /jumping-off-log.jpg. You get the idea.

Some of you are more adept at organizing and TAG your photos. Kind of like keyword tagging in WordPress, you can tag photos with terms so the and location remain the same and you can search for specific tags. Tags may include: nature, isolated (for those items on white backgrounds), smiling, business. Similar to how you search on photo sites. This is how their photographers do it when they upload them images. It also explains some of the bizarre results you get when searching for images.
(video from Microsoft how to do this here)
(organizing files and folders with tags on a Mac)


These are the little graphics you use for buttons, links, navigation, social media links, etc. I keep all of mine in a folder called… icons and and name them appropriately. Remember, some sites have spent some money creating their own icons. Just because you can right click and save, doesn’t mean it’s ethical. Ask permission or make your own after being inspired by theirs.

vector graphics

These are the raw files you may download from graphic sites such as and the rest. They allow you to resize without loss of clarity of the image. They are usually layered and allow you to use just specific elements, change the colors of the layers, etc. Their extensions are usually: ai, eps, psd and sometimes PDF files can also have all of the layers, you just need to open it in a program such as Adobe Illustrator to see them. When I save these, I name them with the word vector in the file, as well as the color scheme: vector_busy_blue_swirls_on_white.eps. This saves me time in searching through brown, 3D, purples and other mismatches for what I need.

3. docs, excel, pdf – same suggestions apply.

If you need to find it by date, use the same date pattern consistently: July-2014, july2014, 201407, 07-2014 will all be sorted differently. Be sure to name series documents the same. Perhaps you have weekly client meetings, or weekly reports for a client, or standard proposals:

billingagreement-clientname-2015.pdf, billagreement-clientname-2015.docx for the original – keeps them in the same place. All accounting should go in accounting or contract folder, or, when they sign, in an agreement or documentation folder in their folder.

DO NOT USE SPACES in file names. Try to keep them all lowercase, using – or _ between words or terms.


This is a great project to do when you are waiting for something to render, between tasks or meetings. It’s also a GREAT intern project, project for your teen looking to earn some money.