According to the Marie Kondo method, if something doesn’t bring you joy, it’s time to toss it. While unfortunately this concept can’t apply to every aspect of your work life, when it comes to your job, applying a similar principle CAN potentially bring you joy. Holding on to files that you don’t actually need or use anymore simply leads to file clutter, which people (some more than others) can find stressful. If you’ve got tons of files on your computer that you haven’t looked at in months, it could be time to tidy up a bit.
Are you great at cleaning out your closet but not great at cleaning up your computer files? Maybe the decision to purge those old shoes from 1995 is a breeze for you, but when it comes to trashing that 2-year-old digital file that has no relevance anymore, it’s a different story. Or perhaps the file clutter stresses you out, but you’re worried about the finality of deleting anything and don’t really know where to start. If you’re like any normal person, keeping your files cleaned up can seem daunting and laborious. Therefore, we want to cover some best practices when it comes to your files: how to store what you need and use, how to properly delete what you don’t, and how to maximize your file storage space.
We strongly encourage everyone to use a form of cloud storage for your files. What this means is that when you save something, you are saving it to an online storage center – not simply to your desktop. This ensures that everything is backed up in the case of a physical accident with your computer (whether it be a natural disaster or a spilling-an-entire-mug-of-coffee-on-your-laptop situation). For our church clients, we highly recommend Microsoft 365’s OneDrive and Teams for file storage.* One reason for this recommendation is that the Microsoft 365 Enterprise level subscription is free for all 501c3 nonprofit organizations. Not only is it an affordable choice for your church staff, but the Microsoft platform is an incredibly powerful solution for all aspects of collaboration – we use it here at Enable. With the right security software and processes in place, cloud storage ensures that your files are safe, secure, and easily accessible.
*There are several other cloud-storage platforms out there, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and others. While we think Microsoft 365 offers the best comprehensive solution for churches, any cloud storage solution is better than none, and the most important part is that your files are stored somewhere safe.
Now, let’s dive into Microsoft’s options when it comes to your storing files and our recommendations for keeping them clean.
Microsoft OneDrive and Teams
Both OneDrive and Teams are file hosting and synchronization services operated by Microsoft as part of the web version of its 365 tools. The main difference between the two is WHEN you use them. At Enable we like to describe it this way: You store “ME files” in OneDrive. You store “WE files” in Teams.
OneDrive is for all the documents you’re working on that are just for you. Of course, you can send these files to co-workers for collaboration, but for the most part, they are the files you personally need and reference to perform your job. OneDrive provides you with 1TB of storage – that is A LOT of storage. If you delete something in OneDrive, by default it will remain in the recycle bin for 90 days. However, to prevent accidentally deleting files and since there is so much storage, we recommend keeping your files organized and clean with an archive folder that you periodically and systematically empty. We’ll come back to that.
Example of a OneDrive file: your rough draft of the VBS schedule you are personally working on.
Teams, on the other hand, is where you store collaborative, shared files. Collaborative files and documents include things that are shared between multiple people in your organization or things that multiple people need to access at any given time. Role–specific files also belong in Teams because these files remain in the Team regardless of the user. This is important in role changeover. For example, a typical church HR department is just one person, but the files they store are needed for the HR role, not just that individual person. If the HR person leaves the job (and their OneDrive and all its contents are subsequently deleted) and is replaced by someone else, those files will still be needed by the HR department. Storing them in Teams versus the individual’s OneDrive ensures they are accessible to the role, regardless of the user. We recommend organizing Teams by department and storing files specific to that department in the files tab of that Team. This platform does keep a backup of your files. If you delete something, it is stored in a “recently deleted” folder for 90 days before it is gone for good.
Example of a Teams file: a Word document you and the communication department are putting together for VBS announcements, the excel spreadsheet with VBS participants’ contact information and room assignments that all staff members need access to, or a document outlining hiring & onboarding processes for the HR department.
Our recommendations and best practices for keeping your files organized:
- Create an archive folder.
Move any files you have not used in 4-6 months into this folder. This will help eliminate clutter in the folders that you use every day. You can do a monthly sweep of your archive folder and delete items that you are sure you won’t need again, like old drafts or duplicate documents. In OneDrive, it would make sense to have one master archive folder since everything is for your own use. In Teams, it might make sense to have an archive folder within each department folder, so that multiple users are only having to comb through relevant files, if necessary.
- Create folders with clear and intuitive categories.
Organizing files into folders with categories that make sense is key. This will help you find what you need when you need it much easier. In Teams, you store your files in the Files tab inside various channels of your team. Within those, create folders for various categories of information, types of documents, specific events, etc. Organize your folders however makes the most sense for your work flow and your team, but the universal principle of breaking things down into smaller chunks applies to everyone.
- Never save anything solely to your desktop or laptop.
These devices can be stolen, lost, or damaged, and if that’s the only place the files live, they will be gone forever. OneDrive can be set up to sync with your computer, so that you can still save files to your desktop, but they are automatically backed up in the cloud. This gives you the accessibility of working from your desktop, and the security of a cloud backup.
If you are a church and you do not have a cloud-based file storage solution, we highly recommend looking into this option further! Cloud-based file storage is the most flexible, affordable, secure, and low-risk way to manage your organization’s files. If you’d like to talk to someone about how to transition to cloud storage, Enable would love to help you! Email us at [email protected] to get started.