NUMERICAL METHOD FOR NAMING/ARRANGEMENT OF YOUR FOLDERS AND FILES
In the narration of Office 2.0, I emphasised on the necessity to have a standard procedure for naming and arrangement of folders/files on your digital space.
As everyone in your office will commonly use the digital space, if you don't devise a standard naming and arrangement pattern, the files and folders will get chaotic, eventually leading to disarray and disuse.
Numerical method is a simple system of naming folders and files, which in-turn, given its inherent nature, follows a systematic arrangement pattern.
WHAT IS NUMERICAL METHOD - THE RULE
As the name suggests, numerical arrangement involves naming every folder/ file prefixed by a number, followed by whatever name you would otherwise assign to the said folder/file.
As a rule, every folder/file - starting from the outermost folder to the inner most file - in your office's digital space should be named starting with a number. Illustratively, the following is a screenshot of my outermost folders on office cloud.
EXCEPTION TO THE RULE
One area where the numerical method requires some tweaking is with respect to standard sub-folders/ files, which reoccur in all folders of a particular class.
For example, in my case files folder, I have 4 standard sub-folders, which are repeated in all cases.
I also prefer to have these standard sub-folders/ files in exact same position for all cases (some on top and others on bottom) irrespective of the other files that would eventually be placed in these folders.For easy implementation, the sub-folders/ files I want on the top are prefixed with '0'. The ones i want on the bottom are prefixed with 'Z'.
Following is an illustrative screenshot.
ADVANTAGES OF NUMERICAL ARRANGEMENT
The numerical method is a powerful tool to effortlessly keep your digital space intact. The following are a few direct advantages of numerical arrangement.
Keeps all folders/files in the same relative position: Imagine you have case files with file numbers 1 to 100 on the opening day. In next 6 months, 50 more cases are added and 25 matters are disposed of. If you follow numerical arrangement, a particular case will always remain at the same relative position despite the addition/removal of other folders. Following is a screen shot of my "Existing Matters - Full Files" folder containing pending cases.
Whatever be your file name, case number '42' will always be at same relative position below the lesser number (that will precede it) and greater number (that follows it). The missing numbers in the above screenshot are disposed of files, which are moved to the "Disposed Files" folder.
If numerical arrangement is not followed, the same folder will keep moving up and down depending on the other folders that are being added or removed.
A constant relative position greatly simplifies the ease in locating a specific folder/file, eliminating the 'finding strain' in daily use.
Inherently maintains your files/folders in a chronological order: As new files/folders are numbered in serial manner, they are inherently maintained in a chronological order.
This has great relevance within a given case folder as your pleadings, documents, applications, etc are automatically arranged in the chronological order. To illustrate, the following is a screen-shot of a digital case file, in which contents are numerically arranged.
The same case file will look like as follows if numerical method is not followed. Even this will not remain constant in all files as a different name might be given to the same pleading/application.
Let me add a small caveat with respect to the inherent chronological arrangement. Few advocates prefer to have certain files, not in chronological order, but at a specific place, preceding or succeeding a specific file.
For example, you might want a reply to an application placed immediately after the application, irrespective of its filing date. A simple solution to this is the 'decimal point', which is explained below.
DISADVANTAGES OF NUMERICAL METHOD
There are no disadvantages per se with the numerical method, but for the inherent manner in which certain operating systems/cloud services order their files.
For instance, if I have folders from 1 to 500. The DropBox app on my iPad will arrange them, as expected, from 1 to 500 in serial order. However, the same files on my OneDrive app will be arranged as follows: 1, 10, 11, 12... to 19, 100, 101, 102...199, 2, 20, 21, 22...to 29, 200, 201, 202... 299, and so on.
You face this difficult mostly on the mobile apps and not on your computer.
SOME USAGE TIPS
New Case files: While numbering digital folders of new case files, prefix them with the same 'file number' that you assign the physical file in your office register. This will maintain uniformity in referring to a case, both in physical and virtual space.
Adding contents to the existing case files: While making new additions to existing folders, simply prefix it with the next number in serial order, following the last preceding file.
The decimal point method: The 'decimal point' method will enable you to add a new folder/file at a specific location, without renaming the subsequent folders/files. For example, assume your last file number is 182. You got 3 new batch matters, which are related to File No. 151, and you want them placed immediately after 151. You can simply name the new files as 151.1, 151.2 and 151.3.
As stated above, the 'decimal point' method can also be used if your want a new file within an existing matter (say a reply to an application) immediately after/before another file (the application), irrespective of the other files in between.
I got inspired to implement the 'decimal point' method for folder/ file arrangement when the Supreme Court, in 2018, implemented this method for listing connected matters in cause lists.
Number clusters: In offices with heavy case load, you will notice that the numbering sequence will eventually run into long numbers. After a point, it becomes counterproductive to scroll down every time to reach the latest folder/files.
This could be remedied with folder clusters. Suppose, if your office has 452 files, the upper levels till 400 could be in 4 folders from 1 - 100, 101 - 200, 201 - 300, 301 - 400, followed by all other files, The moment the numbering reaches 500, 401-500 could be moved to a new 'cluster folder', followed with the subsequent folders till you reach 600, and so on.
The final system you adopt is a subjective decision. I don't suggest that numerical method is the only possible option. But, in my usage, I could not find any other method which is as simple and yet fully functional as the numerical method. Do give it a try.