Clara sent me the following question:
I would like to know how you organize your work and files on your computer.
My computer is my studio. It’s my primary tool for developing my illustrations and running all aspects of my business.
I have simplified my workflow through the years and nowadays I only need my computer, and my iPad to work. My studio fits into my backpack, and that allows me to be a nomadic illustrator.
The folders structure is like the skeleton of my computer. It holds all the content, and it’s the base of everything.
A great folder structure allows me to:
- Have everything organized and tidy.
- Know where everything is so I don’t lose anything.
- Know exactly where to put a file or folder instantly. I don’t lose time thinking.
- Have everything in the cloud thanks to Dropbox.
Today I want to share the system I follow and the folder structure I use.
The folder that contains everything related to studio management.
The folder that contains all my illustrations and work projects.
This folder contains all my personal files such as pictures, music, movies, etc.
The folder structure is pretty simple, and everything for my work fits into either the Studio or Projects folder.
Here is an example of what I keep in my Studio and projects folders:
- When I finish a project I move it from the Working sub-folder to the year folder.
- I name each project folder with the client name and the title of the project. For instance: The New York Times – Great Habits.
- Inside each project folder I create three new sub-folders: Sketch, Final and Material.
- In the Someday folder I put projects that are on hold or that I will develop at some point but am not currently working on.
- Besides this file structure, I create shortcuts to my most accessed folders in the Finder Sidebar as Working, Illustration 2015, Logo or Accounting.
As I mentioned before, I use this file structure within Dropbox. For $99 a year I get 1TB of space. That is more than enough to store all my data.
Here are some of the reasons I use Dropbox for my folder system:
- You can access any file from anywhere, including a phone or other computers. Everything is synced.
- Dropbox comes with backups and you can also access preview versions of the files (via the Dropbox website).
- If you run out of space on your computer, you can always use the Selective Sync feature and uncheck old projects. Those folders won’t be stored on your computer anymore, but they will still be in Dropbox, accessible from everywhere (including the computer via the Dropbox website).
- Having the whole structure in Dropbox allows you to easily update your computer to a new OS very easily. That’s an excellent way to have your computer always working optimally.
Having a great folder structure is a must if you want to have a tidy computer.
Our computers are one of the most important tools we use to run our studios. We store our work, our accounting, and hundreds of important files on our computers.
As professionals, it’s our responsibility to take care of our tools.
I perfected this system after years of trying different ideas and solutions (and also having some problems and losing some files).
I find it to be very flexible, reliable and safe, especially if you combine it with a robust backup system.
PS: My online course Strategy & Business for Illustrators is now available for pre-order!