That title feels like something a mom blogger would create before writing a post full of unreasonable expectations like setting out kids’ outfits the night before… but I promise this is doable and useful.

Once upon a time, my Google Drive was a mess of client intake forms, planning documents, abandoned documents of unknown purpose, copies of documents with edits done for some reason, calendars, spreadsheets for my garden and personal finances, and who knows what else.

Now, it’s a series of folders inside folders with useful names and groupings. I can find what I’m looking for! Bonus, if something doesn’t fit nicely in a folder, it prompts me to consider whether I need to keep it as a doc or sheet. That has helped cut down on unnecessary items in my personal Google Drive.

Old Habits Die Hard

So you would think that when I started my new job, I’d have set up nice clean folders from the start. Right? It turns out that old habits really do die hard.

I now work as a Director of Technology and teach a few classes. Last week, I realized my Drive was quickly getting out of control and needed some cleaning. I started out making some nice generic folders for the main Drive home page. It’s a work in progress, but currently looks like this:

Notice the fairly generic titles to the folders? That allows me to group like content together in one place. There is no point in calling it a system if you have a folder for every single new thing. At this top level, you should have generic titles.

Because this is a Tech Tip for Teachers post and I’m in the process of cleaning up my Teaching folder, I’ll share that here.

You’ll notice only one file in the Teaching folder doesn’t have a home inside a sub-folder. This is my yearly planner sheet with lines for each course. Because this applies to all my classes, it is in the main teaching folder.

Then, I have a folder for each class I am teaching. I’m still in the process of cleaning up my Drive so I’ll share my Food Systems folder as I clean it up. Right now, it looks like this:

I have presentation slides, lesson plans, forms to guide students through a research project, rubrics, a class calendar, assignment info sheets, and lecture notes. The class calendar is a stand-alone kind of thing so that will stay in the main Food Systems folder. Everything else will be grouped into the categories listed above as folders.

Much better!

Notice the two docs still hanging out in the main Food Systems folder. These are one-off things that don’t really fit into any of the folders I made. My class is planned out for the year, but I only have slides, docs, and forms made for the first semester. As I make more items, there may be a folder that makes sense to add these two docs and some new ones into. Or not. But I’d rather have a few stragglers than a whole folder of chaos.

Organizing Your Drive

To start with, write down the most logical top-level folders. These would include teaching, PLC, Advising, and so on.

Then, start dragging and dropping files into the folders. If you aren’t sure what a document is or where it belongs, open it and make a choice. You can delete it or use the folder icon in the top left to place it in a folder (see the screenshot below).

You might not get your entire Drive cleaned up in a day, but working on it for 10 minutes daily will get you there fast.

Keeping it Organized

When you make a new doc, slide, sheet, or form you can put it in the right folder without leaving the screen. All Google office tools have the option to move a file into a folder. Just look for the folder icon in the top left of the screen:

Once your folders are set up, it is easy to add every new file to its corresponding folder. You’ll thank yourself later!

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