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Quain's Top Ten Ways to Stay Organized
First appeared in Fast Company magazine's February/March 1997 issue.

Keep different projects in separate folders. Don't store everything in one big file folder or blindly follow programs like Excel, which automatically store everything in the My Documents folder.

2 Rename files. Use a logical naming convention (alphabetical or numeric) so your most recent files show up in the top of, say, Windows' File Manager window. And include a date. If you forget the name for a particular file, you can narrow a search by using the date.

3 When installing a new program in Windows 95, use the 'add/remove programs' option. It's in the Control Panel folder. This enables you to cleanly uninstall the program if you later find you're not using it.

4 Back up your hard drive as often as possible. This rule can't be over-emphasized.

5 Look in the manual to see which file holds the data for your PIM. Copy the file to a spare floppy disk every couple of days. It's probably the most valuable file on your computer, and it's probably not backed up on the company's server.

6 Copy email files. You might want to delete all that CYA electronic flotsam from last year. Don't do it. Back up the files first. You never know when you'll have to cover your own ass.

7 Don't permanently store important files on floppies. Floppy disks are notorious for losing important bits and corrupting files. Use them only for backup copies.

8 Round up missing Mac files. If you don't have a file icon but you can see the listing for the file's title, you probably need to rebuild your desktop. Hold down the Command and Option keys while rebooting your machine. This tells the Mac to go out and find everything again.

9 Keep different but related files together. Can't find a photo from the art department while you're looking at ad copy in another program? In Windows 95, just select the related photo from the other application and drag it to your desktop, where it'll appear as a scrap icon. Then open the ad copy in your word processor and drag the scrap into it. Next time, you can go right from the text to the related photo without having to search for it.

10 Save time getting to your favorite programs in Windows 95. Access your most frequently used programs by renaming the Shortcuts in the Start menu so they begin with a number, i.e., 1. Word; 2. Quain's Top Ten; 3. America Online.

Fast Company

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