Digital Organization for Interior Designers (a how-to guide)
Written by: Fathima Thehreem Edited by: Aseel A. H.
Whether you are a messy or an organized individual, I think you might agree that time is your most valuable resource, and if you have the experience of getting multiple clients, then you know the importance of finding files as soon as possible, and that's why being organized (at least digitally) as an interior designer is CRUCIAL!
Not only does your desktop reflect your digital work environment and affect how you feel, but an interior designer who struggles to find a digital file or a drawing the day before the final submission is not the best use of your time. I certainly (like a lot of people) have wasted a lot of hours searching for the final submission when I should have been practicing my presentation skills and rehearsing what I needed to say.
Organization one of the common challenging problems that designers encounter, so let's figure out how we can solve this problem, shall we?
Everyone has their style and creativity in organizing their digital files. But here is my methodology, which took a few trials and errors until it came to be the way it is now, it works really well for me now so I wanted to share it with you!
My digital filing methodology:
1- All of my projects are under the (Clients & Contracts) folder on my desktop for ease of reach.
2-Since I work on a multitude of business endeavors (coaching Interior Design, freelance contracts, etc..) I have a separate folder for each Clientele. the one for my Interior Design Clients is simply called: Interior Design Clients and that's where I save everything related to them.
3- The next subcategory that I don't actually have but I do suggest adding a sub-folder for the type of the projects you take, i.e.: Residential Projects, Commercial, Retail, Hospitality, etc.
4- Next, of course, each client gets a folder, usually with its own label (if you are on Mac) and it's simply named by the date we started the project + name of the client. Example: May 21 - Monica Geller
5- In each of my clients' folders, I keep subfolders of the type of files I might need, I create new ones anytime I need a subcategory, some of my files are Contracts, Inspiration, AutoCAD, Details, SketchUp Models, Renders, BOQ.
6- In each of those subcategories lays a bunch of files that I originally acquired from the client or created myself, and they have a system of their own, for example: if you access my Contracts Folder, you need to find the following: a quotation (that includes a service agreement), an invoice, and a receipt. Each of them is named via the following format:
Today's Date - Company Initials (ABSB)-Type of Document (Initials) -Project Number-Client Name
For example, if I wanted to create a quotation for my imaginary client, Monica Geller, this is the format I would use:
17th May 2021-ABSB-QU-20-MONICA GELLER
It might look complicated but when you get a lot of projects and you can find everything archived properly, then you will be 150% thankful to your past self for creating a system that's easy to understand at the first glance, at least for you!
Importance of backup: I am sure if you have been doing design for a while that you managed to get a bug into one of your files and wasted 2 solid days recreating what you have been working on for 2 months, it's just one of the *not* so charming parts of being a creative who requires technology for their work, and technology can be super evil sometimes. What I do is create a folder in Google Drive (my backup system of choice) that I updated weekly, I literally don't have to do more than a drag and drop and a little bit of waiting to get everything in place, and that gives me the ultimate peace of mind when it comes to filing and documenting my work.
Finally: Every time I get a new client, they get their own page on Notion, literally, my favorite App to use ever, if you don't know about Notion then I highly recommend you watch a couple of videos about it on YouTube and try it for yourself, I keep track of my client's information, it syncs to my phone, and that's why it's super helpful especially for organizing information and creating shopping lists.
In conclusion, organizing your digital world might be a daunting task with a lot of nitty-gritty details, but in the end, it will benefit you majorly, as it will save you time and stress making your work more enjoyable and faster! Wishing you a happy digital spring/summer cleaning season!