A little while ago I talked about good habits that help keep digital clutter under control, including the importance of a consistent file naming system and regular filing. Well, now it’s time to take a step further and delve into the world of cloud storage (Google Drive for business, to be exact) and how it can help you keep your business files safe and organized.
Google recently announced Google One, the expanded storage version of Google Drive that makes cloud storage more affordable than ever (they now offer 2TB for only $9.99!). It will (initially) be available for existing Google Drive subscriptions only, so right now is a great time to stop hassling with local storage and take your file game to the next level.
Up until about a year ago, I switched back and forth between working on my desktop computer and laptop and synced files every single day. All this file shuffling annoyed the living daylights out of me. One day I had enough, uploaded everything to Google Drive and celebrated a simpler and more productive life.
Using Google Drive to store and organize my business files is one of the best things I’ve done. Everything is in the cloud, accessible anytime and anywhere and not a single file has been lost since making the switch.
Whether you’re a multi-computer user like myself, work with a team or just need ideas on how to use cloud storage for keeping business files under control, this post is for you. I’m going to share my organization system. Make sure to download the free organization checklist so you can use it as a guideline for organizing your own files!
WHY GOOGLE DRIVE?
Google has perfected their products a lot over the past few years and Google Drive is better than ever before. It has a full online office suite built in (eliminates the need for Microsoft Office, plus easy document creation right in the app).
There’s lots of storage space: 15 GB for free, 30GB or 1TB in Google Suite. Upgrading storage is extremely cheap, especially with new Google One packages.
Collaboration is easy as pie which means it’s perfect for working with clients and team members. Not to mention, Google Photos is already integrated… the list goes on and on.
My point: combine Google Drive (or in my case, Google Suite) with a project management software (in my case, Asana) and you’ve got a powerhouse of organization and peace of mind.
FOLDER STRUCTURE IS IMPORTANT
Some people use Google Drive for personal files and Dropbox for client work (or vice versa), but I find it easier to have everything in one place. Less switching back and forth, more time spent on things that need to get done.
When it comes to planning your folder structure, it should be set up in a way that makes filing and finding easy. What would you prefer – clicking around in a folder maze to find the right place or straightforward and fast navigation? Fast navigation, am I right?
I suggest thinking minimal, at least when it comes to top-level folders. Keep the structure simple. Don’t go overboard with creating folders. When I first moved all of my files to the cloud I tried to make the system perfect and ended up over-organizing. Despite a perfectly organized system of folders, I couldn’t find anything!
There are three levels to my folder system. There are top-level folders – those you see when you open up Google Drive. Inside each top-level folder are master folders for each area of my business (branding, marketing, clients, etc). Lastly, files in master folders are divided into subfolders.
My Google Drive homepage only has three top-level folders for personal, business (Jungle Soul Collective) and education. I never let any loose files float around (files tend to multiply; in the beginning, there’s one, and then boom, suddenly there’s a whole army). Each file has to fit in somewhere in the system and you know you’ve done a good job planning your file structure when they always do.
The most important thing to realize is that the folder structure should reflect how you mentally divide your personal life and business/work. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. If you try to come up with a completely new system, it most likely won’t work because it’s just not how your mind works. You end up being more confused than before. Best way to plan is to draw out the structure on paper first.
Education gets its own top-level folder because learning is an ongoing thing for me in both business and personal life. Education folder has everything from courses I’m taking and ebooks to materials I’ve downloaded from other business owners. Everything I’ve worked through goes into the “Archive” folder for future reference.
JUNGLE SOUL COLLECTIVE
This is my business folder. Inside the business folder, I’ve created category folders for each important area of running Jungle Soul Collective (see below). This system mimics my Asana boards organization which makes my workflow a lot smoother because files in these folders are linked to their respective Asana boards or cards.
I’ve tried my best to keep things simple. I prefer to not have to too many category folders as it makes it harder to find what I need. More folders ≠ better organization. Now let’s take a look at each category folder.
Although I always reference my brand elements from my Brand Board in Asana, all the files are actually stored in the Branding folder.
Google Drive lets you upload all sorts of files which makes it perfect for storing Photoshop and Illustrator source files (or any files in general). Every branding element – logo, alternative logo, submark, textures, favicons, fonts, brand colors – are organized in the Brand Elements folder. Brand board, inspirational mood boards, and business card source files have their own folder.
Headshots and photos I’ve used on my site live in separate folders for easy reference, so are vision, mission and brand values documents.
Templates folder is one that I use regularly and one of the few that is constantly synced to my hard drive; it holds master copies of files I modify often such as pin designs, post featured images, Instagram templates, social media headers, etc.
You can see from the diagram how I organize my client folders. When a client books me, I create a master folder for them and subfolders for each project. When the project calls for it, I share the folder or certain files with the client. When I’m done with a client, I simply move their folder to the “Archive” (for future reference or to use again).
3. CONTENT + PRODUCTS
Every piece of content I’ve created lives in this folder. Let’s take a closer look.
After a long time of trial and error in finding a blog post system that works and feels intuitive to use, I’m glad to present my solution. Every post that I’ve written and is live today is stored in the Published Posts folder. Any posts that are still in the draft phase, are – you guessed it – in the drafts folder. The Archive is for old and irrelevant pieces of content (that I might want to reuse or repurpose someday).
Inside published posts, each post has its own folder which looks like this…
Keeping all the graphics and copy that go with the post in one place has been a godsend. It also makes it very easy to keep track of posts and update them. There was a time when I kept all pins in one folder, featured images in another and updating the exact image I needed was way too complicated (mostly because I couldn’t find it… bad file naming convention). Now, as I’m repurposing and updating old posts (such as this one) it’s just a matter of clicks.
CONTENT UPGRADES AND RESOURCE LIBRARY
Aren’t these the same thing? Well, kind of. To keep things simple, I keep freebies that aren’t finished in Content Upgrades. Once a freebie is launched and ready for promotion, I move the folder under Resource Library. So in a nutshell, Resource Library is strictly for freebies that are available to my subscribers and houses every necessary file (the file itself, pin graphics, promotional photos, etc). That way I never mix things up.
Again, keeping things simple. All the newsletter and sequence planning is done within Asana, but once a sequence goes live or a newsletter is batched and scheduled, I make a copy of it in Google Drive. Each sequence email file and newsletter is then linked in Asana for easy access. This sounds like a lot of work (setting it up initially was) but once a system is in place it’s a matter of minutes.
As the name says, this folder houses all the information related to my services, including pin graphics.
All the copy I use on my site, laid out in a document page by page.
Ever since switching from Trello to Asana this folder isn’t used a lot. It serves as storage for any images and documents but everything is referenced within Asana. I have a post on how to use Asana to organize everything in your business coming up soon!
Operations folder – the folder where the most important documents live – is something that I did not have for a long time but is absolutely crucial. Operations folder is the right place for founding documents, finance, and legal documents and referral program data.
A word about workflows. I have all the workflows in my business from client work to post publishing mapped out in Asana. It’s also where I reference them. This Workflows folder is purely for storing any files used in these workflows, for example, my new client welcome magazine and software tutorials.
Finances folder has several sublevels but is pretty tame because I use Dubsado for bookkeeping.
Legal is for copies of contracts and website policies.
Other is the catch-all folder where I dump files I don’t know what to do with and that need to be sorted later. I have to admit, I don’t use this folder very often anymore since setting up this file system. And that’s a good thing! However, it’s a good idea to have a place like this.
There’s also my inspiration folder. I used to have a lot of screenshots floating around my hard drives and Google Keep. That mess is no more. Every time I see something cool I want to implement on my own website or in my business, I take a screenshot and upload in this folder. Now I actually look at the screenshots and get inspired!
Miscellaneous Work is for freelance work not directly related to Jungle Soul Collective.
This folder is for my website backup files – not much to see there.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
And that’s it, folks! This system has proved to work for my one person business perfectly, but it can also be customized to fit the needs of a bigger business and a team.
BEFORE YOU GO, PIN THIS