Having your files stored in the cloud is one of the most powerful tools in your business when it’s done right. If not, you’ll find yourself and your team spending unreasonable amounts of time tracking things down.
As with most teams that I work with, Michael Hyatt & Co was growing fast when they reached out for help organizing their file system. It still is. The big question for them was, “Which platform do we use? We have files on Dropbox, Google Drive, Box.com, and should we use OneDrive?”
Take a beat to ask better questions
This is the question most people start out with. What platform should I use? What’s the best tool?
This is a valid question, but it’s by no means the most important question. Each tool exists for a specific set of needs. If you’ve been following Michael for any length of time, you know specializing is your biggest strength even though some tools generalize to fit every possible need out there. For Michael Hyatt & Co, Google Drive was the best choice.
The most powerful questions you can ask yourself and your business when it comes to technology are these:
- What am I trying to accomplish?
- How should I use this platform or tool?
The questions we have determine our focus and where we go. If you’re asking what’s the best and latest tool in the world of fast-moving technology, you’re going to be stuck in analysis paralysis, or you’re probably giving your company whiplash. Can I get an amen?!
Answers, and more questions
When it comes to digital organization, we always start with the question of what we’re trying to accomplish. In this case, it was clearly stated: “To create a central repository for all digital assets that can easily be shared among employees and contractors in a clearly organized system that promotes easy collaboration and efficiency, while maintaining a high level of security and control of these assets.”
After an analysis of how the team works, what they create, related files to their projects, and the tools they were using for content creation, we decided Google Drive was the best choice.
Now the question, “How do I use this platform or tool?”, comes into play.
While there are infinite ways of organizing, after 11 years of teaching people how to use tools and helping them sort out big messes, I believe the best method for most people and businesses is based on category. For example:
- General (Assets used across multiple brands, products, clients, etc.)
- Corporate Branding
- Office policies
- Best Year Ever
- Free to Focus
- Platform University
- Expense Reports
- Monthly P&L
- Board Minutes
- Corporate Licensing and Numbers
- Form Templates
- Forms Filled
- Legal Engagements
- Customer Experience
How you go from The Big Mess to a clear organized system:
1. Decide on a platform
We chose Google Drive because we were already using G Suite and Google Docs heavily. The integration of Google products made the most sense.
2. Take inventory
You’re going hunting. Grab a sheet of paper and find where all your stuff is and write it down. E.g. Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Evernote, on my Mac – Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Pictures. Don’t get bogged down in this. Spend a max of 15 minutes.
3. Find the pattern
Write down the categories above in your notes and scan through the files you found. Did you find a number of things that warrant creating another major category? If so, add it to your list.
4. Start from scratch
We created a folder called DAR (Digital Assets Repository). Inside of DAR, we created our main categories and any obvious subfolders that should go in there.
5. Cannibalize the old system
Questioning whether or not you’ve already moved something to the new system is a recipe for a mental breakdown. Our goal is to feed the new organization system with the files from all other sources. This is absolutely critical. To keep your sanity during this process, clean up as you go. If you’ve just copied files from Dropbox to Google Drive, delete the stuff you just copied from Dropbox.
6. Broad strokes
The first goal when you’re organizing is consolidation. Don’t worry about organizing everything perfectly. Just get them from all the various sources into the main categories. Then celebrate!
Once you have everything in the big folders, it’s time to consolidate again. For example: Courses. If you have a number of courses, make a folder for each and put everything relating to that course in the folder. Inside of there should be things like: Media, Copy, Affiliates, Slide Decks, etc.
8. Maintain consistency
The first time you organize everything, it’s unlikely you’ll get it perfect. For now, just maintain consistency with your system. Create a document to share among the team for how things are working in the new system and how it can be improved. I suggest creating a channel in Slack just for this. Make sure you assign someone or a committee to own this project.
You’re going to feel a massive sense of relief once everything is in this system. At the same time, you’ll gain clarity on how things could be even more clear. Take the notes the team has been giving you and implement those changes. This is where ownership comes in handy. You must make those changes as quickly as possible so as not to create confusion. Use the designated committee to accomplish this. Announce these changes and make sure everyone knows what’s about to happen to ensure a smooth transition.
The most important thing in the process is to commit to an organization system. What platform you use is important, but secondary to how you use it. Our biggest task is consolidating all the files to one place and putting them in the new system. From there, it’s all a matter of refinement.