Get Organised With This Simple File Naming System

Staying organised can save you hours of time as a freelancer.

There’s nothing worse than a past client requesting a file from three years ago – and you have no idea what it’s called or how to find it.

Good admin isn’t the most exciting topic, but it’s absolutely crucial.

This file naming system will save you hours of time scouring through hard drives and folders over the course of your career.

Use it wisely.

Setting up a good system early on – with a sensible file naming structure – will save you from a lot of headaches in the future. The main thing with keeping your work organised is to be consistent in how you name things and order them.

So here’s a basic overview of a good file naming system – the one that we use at Freelance Success to stay organised with our projects. It’s fairly easy to implement and it will help you keep your work files neat and organised.

file naming system to keep you organised - an overview of a file naming system that will help you keep your work and project files neat and organised.

A freelance file naming system to keep you organised

Start out with a folder called “Freelance Work”. Inside that folder, you can create a separate folder for each client. For simplicity, name folders after your clients’ names.

When you get a new project, you then create a new folder inside that client’s folder – or if it’s a new client, create a folder for that client and add the project inside of it. You can then give the project a name – which is important to help you find it in the future.

Use the naming structure from the graphic above: year-month-date-project-name. I also like to add the client’s initials after the date: (eg 220915_fs_project_name) .

This helps you to easily track back through the projects you’ve done and find them when you need to, because you can quickly sort folders by date.

Organising project folders

Inside each project folder, I then normally have four folders:

  1. Project Files – for example, if I’m writing articles for my clients, I’ll save the Google Docs or word document files here. For design work, it might be an InDesign file. I tend to name my project files with the project name.
  2. Supplied – this is where I download and save anything that a client has sent me, like attachments from an email, a brief, or anything else I might need to use or refer to during the project.
  3. Links – here I’ll put images, logos, branding assets and similar files that I will need to use in the project.
  4. Exports – this is where I keep exported versions that I send to the client. You will often have more than one export file per project, so make sure to number them sensibly. Keep it simple with numbers, and avoid the temptation to add the word ‘final’ to anything… (it never is!)

And that’s it!

Of course, you can change the names of these folders to make them more relevant to you, depending on the services you offer. And you might find that you need fewer or more folders to organise files for a project – so do adapt this for your own needs.

It takes a little getting used to, but you’ll love how organised and professional being organised like this makes you feel. Give it a try!

If you like this article, you might like these as well:

Why Freelancers Need a Second Brain
Why Do I Need Freelance Insurance?
Using the Pomodoro Technique to Get More Done
Feeling Lazy When You Should Be Working? Try This

Until next time,


Photo credit: Alexander Grey

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