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Computer Stress - The Art of File Management

Written by: Lorraine Twombly
Published: May 2010

stressThese last few months in 2010 have been the busiest that I can remember.  A major priority that recently popped into my life is traveling to visit my very senior parents, making sure to be a good advocate toward the many different obstacles of medical information and regular household chores.  While doing this, I'm keeping very active in our business of leadership/relationship coaching, general management, and consulting.  This means that I have many sources of information in my computer, which is the greatest filing cabinet in the world, in my view!! 

The fact that my computer is my greatest resource in the world has a down side, however.  The biggest challenge for me is how to file electronically so that when I have to find things at a moment's notice, it will only take a quick few seconds.  There's so much information and so many files, that it can take a while to find what I'm looking for.   When I have to spend more than a few minutes looking for a file it can feel like a waist of time and the stress starts to take over. 

In our business, we need to know how to file and retrieve:

  • Client files and resources we designed for each of them.
  • Correspondence files from email communication.
  • Important resource files for instant access for designing diagnostic tools, facilitation exercises, and everything that applies to human development and communicating the learning.
  • Staff files and all their important information and projects.
  • Many more things not even thought about!

I decided to make a point of paying attention to what works and what doesn't work and I've figured out a thing or two on how to make this challenge less stressful.  Here are some things that have helped me - starting with email correspondence:

  • When downloading my emails, I get rid of the junk mail immediately to get the distractions out of the way.
  • I read over the priorities first (information due from others, questions to be answered, info to forward) and respond, research and respond, etc.  I'm getting the priorities out of the way and this usually takes no more than 10 minutes per priority email.
  • I post any calendar reminders so I can be on top of all priorities and promises and I'm good to go.
  • Then, I read over the leisurely emails and take my time responding.  Saving the fun emails for last helps me stay in a less stressful work mode because I've gotten the priorities out of the way.
  • Then I file all my answered emails (both inbox and sent) in alpha order by client, company or vendor name for easy access and retrieval in my personal software email package.
  • We use an internet storage website to backup our email files, like Google, that also backs up our archive files.
  • I do this every day to keep my emails in check.  Keeping on top of it gets to be routine after a while and becomes less time consuming and less stressful.
Data Files can be filed the same way as email, as far as setting up electronic files.  The only difference may be the sub files.  I start with the client or company name as major file names and then create sub-files for the different categories of their service needs so I can quickly retrieve the data when needed.  These files can be backed up via a document storage internet center (again, like Google) and/or via an external hard drive.  We usually back up our files once a week and network and centralize our files (via Google) so we can all retrieve the info as needed and see each other's schedules, etc.  It helps that we have a couple of IT consultants to help us get into the electronic world of filing important information.

For more information, please contact me at 207-653-2552 or

Lorraine Twombly

Lorraine Twombly