How do you find a file when you need it? I have no trouble organizing my paper files, but I haven't figured out a good way to organize my computer files. Because I am a spatial kind of person, spreading papers out physically is a good way for me to organize. But you can't do that with a computer!
I'm a visual/spatial person too, so maybe my file organization suggestions will help. This article has a few basics:
Beyond that, I think the key is really thinking about your folder structure. If you can organize paper files, computer files are no different.
I've had the same file organization for years and years, and I never have "lost" a file. Here are a few things I do to organize my computing world:
1. I keep software programs and data separate. In my case, I have a separate disk partition (D:) for data. Sadly, setting up a separate partition is no longer particularly easy on new computers, but you could do the same thing with folders.
2. I divide up folders by project, not by application. I've noticed that people who can't find things put all their documents in a "Word" folder, for example. That makes no sense. The application that created the file should be irrelevant. What the file IS should be more important. (If you show file extensions, you know what type of file it is anyway.)
3. I have my client work, and my company files separate. For years, I've had a D:\proj folder where I keep my client files. So these files are named D:\proj\client01, D:\proj\client02, and so forth. Within each client folder is a subfolder for each project and an admin folder where I keep copies of contracts and invoices (D:\proj\client01\admin). Then I have D:\LogExp\proj for Logical Expressions projects, e.g. D:\LogExp\proj\books\FundsRescue for my latest book on fundraising.
4. I don't use spaces in filenames and I keep them as short as I can. This idea might be counter-intuitive, but I find incredibly long filenames with spaces difficult to scan in Windows Explorer. I use "camel case" (upper and lower case) or underscores to distinguish words in a file name and folder names. For example, the book cover for the fundraising book is named FundsRescue_cover.indd. Plus, because I do Web site work and have had to share files with people on Macs, avoiding spaces in file names is a good habit to establish.
5. I never store files in the default folder that applications "want" or in the My Documents folder. All of my files are stored within the organizational structure I set up, not Microsoft's or some other vendor's. Plus, because I have to navigate to my own folder and think about where I've put a file, it may make it easier for me to remember where it is later!