Personal Information Management Part 2: File Categories

I didn’t realize I would end up making a series about this, but here we are. I have this weird obsession with creating One Classification To Rule Them All. The first part was how I created a file naming system. In this article, I’ll discuss file categories.

[File Organization Part 1: Universal File Naming Scheme]

File Categories

Most, if not all, operating systems give you a pre-determined set of folders to keep your files in. But they all organize files by type. Documents, Photos, Videos, etc. This is a good, basic system, but I’m taking a more lifestyle-based approach. The reason for lifestyle categories is because my goal is universality. Just like my file naming scheme works independent of OS, I want my categories to work for digital and physical things.

file categories in files app


These are the categories I came up with:

  • Home = Recipes, cleaning, etc.
  • Learn = Database of random information
  • Play = Stuff for fun
  • Self = Journal, self-improvement, etc.
  • Work = Work-related stuff

As an alternative, if filenames start getting too long, we can use abbreviations: Home = [H], Learn = [L], Play = [P], Self = [S], Work = [W].

Home is where I store recipes, cleaning tips (stain removal!), and financial stuff. Learn is an archive of random stuff, basically a miscellaneous category. Play is things you do for leisure, like video games, reading, movies. Self is things you do for self-improvement, like exercise and journaling. Finally, Work is for work stuff. If you’re a student, rename it to School. You can also add more categories if it makes sense for you. All of these folders are stored in one single folder called Root.

Now, inside each of these folders I do still organize things by file type. My general rule is this: If I have a minimum of three files with the same primary category, they get their own folder. Example: Root > Play > Game > Stardew Valley.

learn category in apple books


[Do Your Apps Spark Joy?]

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

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Two thoughts: Where were you 25 years ago when I was starting out. I now have decades of crap, folders within folders, other folders of stuff rescued from computers I retired long ago. In them are more folders of stuff, some duplicates, some fresh, oh and folders of stuff rescued from even older computers. It would take me a year to sort everything out now and in the end I’d STILL not know what three quarters of the stuff was. Last month I was digging around and found a whole web site I had retired almost 20 years ago. I… Read more »