Here are four folders that I have in my Documents on my hard drive that I’ve found save me time.
Receipts – When I buy something online that I need to keep track of, I’ll print a copy of the receipt page to a PDF and save it in this file. Usually I’ll save it with the date as part of the file name. For example: 20071012-cell-phone-order.pdf. This makes it easy to find records of purchases.
Rebates – Rebates are awful. Basically, companies are betting on the fact that you won’t take the time to fill out the paperwork and send it in. I’ve found if I keep everything in a single location, it makes it a lot easier for me to gather up all the pieces of info I need and it is easier to make sure I get all the checks I’m suppose to. The scanner obviously makes this easier, but the real workhorse is Acrobat Standard. I can use it to fill out the forms and then save them. This works well on most forms, but it isn’t worth the trouble on those forms that have a separate box for each letter.
Backups – I use this directory to keep backups of various things I might need. Granted, my entire computer is backed up as well, but this gives me a place to keep things where I need to do a backup before making a big change. For example, I backup my financial software to this directory before doing global changes that could be difficult to recover from. I also backup my address book to this folder before syncing to a new cell phone or before making large-scale changes.
To File – This is a newer folder for me, but so far it seems to be working well. I created this when I decided to keep all documents out of my top level Documents folder. It now contains only other folders. I still needed a place to put something when I don’t have time to find or create a proper folder for it. The “to file” folder fills this function.
Originally published on January 15, 2007.