I use Dropbox to store and organize all of my business files. I love it because I can easily access all of my files from any computer, anywhere in the world—or in my case, anywhere in my home from a variety of devices.
Most days I am working from my home office on an iMac, but sometimes I like to grab my laptop and work from the sofa . . . or my bed. That’s one of the pleasures of working from home, right? And I still haven’t been able to kick the habit of bringing my laptop on vacation, just in case.
By storing all of my files in Dropbox, I am able to access them anywhere—either from a browser or by installing the Dropbox app on my computer, phone, or iPad. Gone are the days when I emailed files to myself or put them on a thumbdrive in order to transfer them from one device to another!
If you haven’t tried Dropbox yet, click here to sign up. You can get started with their Basic plan, which gives you 2 GB of space for free. Plus, if you sign-up via my referral link above, we’ll each get an additional 500+ MB of free space!
I personally use their Plus plan which gives me 1 TB of space for $99 per year. For less than $9 a month, I have the peace of mind that I’ll never run out of space.
I should note that you can also use Google Drive to store and organize your files. If you use G Suite for your business email address they have a few plans to choose from. But if you don’t use G Suite, Dropbox is a great alternative. I actually use both for various parts of my business.
FIRST THINGS FIRST, CLEAR THE CLUTTER
You’ve likely heard the saying “visual clutter is mental clutter.” I wholeheartedly agree with this statement and carry its sentiment throughout my entire home—from my kitchen counters to my computer desktop.
A clear desktop gives you a fresh start each morning. Look at this peaceful scene that welcomes me each day.
If you take a closer look, you can see that I only have three items on my desktop.
The icon that gives me access to my iMac hard drive.
The icon that gives me access to my Time Machine backup.
The icon that gives me access to my Dropbox folder.
Side note: About eight years ago you would have found only two icons on my desktop, one for my hard drive and one “business” folder that contained all of my work files. . . . Until one day when I was working while trying to manage after-school snacks and third grade homework and accidentally dragged that “business” folder to the trash . . . and then emptied the trash! I lost every single one of my client files in the span of a few minutes. Once I realized what I’d done (and after I dried my flood of tears), I vowed that I would find a way to work smarter—and perform regular backups!
THE BENEFITS OF DROPBOX
What I love most about Dropbox is that all of your files are stored in one central location—and they are backed up for you! Plus, you can choose to sync your files to multiple computers. This is perfect for teams or anyone who uses more than one computer, like I do.
You can always access your files through your account on dropbox.com, but I prefer to work from the Dropbox app. Once installed, the app creates a Dropbox folder on your computer—like the one I have on my desktop. This folder works just like any other folder, with a few important differences (benefits):
Any changes you make to files in the Dropbox folder are automatically backed up to Dropbox.
Changes in files are also synced to the Dropbox accounts of people you have shared the files with.
You can access files and folders that others have shared with you.
I think it is important to note that unlike working from your account on dropbox.com, installing the app on your computer will take up space on your hard drive. Since the Dropbox folder actually lives on your computer, the sum of its contents will take up your hard drive space.
For me, this isn’t a problem with my iMac, but since my laptop doesn’t have a huge hard drive, I am unable to sync my entire Dropbox folder there. However, through the beauty of Dropbox’s selective sync, I can pick and choose which folders to sync where.
For example, my iMac syncs everything in my Dropbox folder, but on my laptop, I chose to only sync my main business folder. Since this is the most used folder, it’s highly likely that I’ll have everything I need when I am on-the-go . . . or on the couch. Furthermore, I chose to disable some of my larger media files to free up even more space—this laptop is over six years old and needs all the help it can get! Plus if I ever find myself in need of a particular file that isn’t synced, I can easily log into my account on dropbox.com to download that specific file.
USING DROPBOX TO ORGANIZE YOUR BUSINESS FILES
In my Dropbox folder I have four main folders:
Copper Bottom: The home base for Copper Bottom Design Co. I’ll be diving deeper into this folder in a moment, as this is where I keep all of my business files.
Education: Where I keep e-books, PDFs, and class materials for any courses I’ve taken.
Misc.: Where I store miscellaneous inspirational images and unused stock photos.
Personal: Where I store all of my personal files.
Now let’s take a closer look at my Copper Bottom folder. As you can see, that I have six sub folders in there. I chose to number those folders in order of importance to me. Since my computer automatically alphabetizes the folders, numbering them gives me a way to create a custom hierarchy.
The Clients folder is my most used folder, that’s why it’s labeled number one. It’s there that I store all of my client files. For confidentiality purposes, I won’t show you the contents of this folder, but here is how I organize those files:
In each client folder I have sub folders for the following:
FTP (files to printer)
Inspiration + Assets
PO + Shipping Docs
Each new client gets the exact same setup.
The second folder is a list of my offerings—any products or services that I currently offer or plan to launch in the future. Hint, hint, courses coming soon!
Next is the Marketing folder. This folder gets used quite a bit too. It’s where I keep anything and everything related to marketing: collaborations and PR, content marketing which holds all of my blog and email newsletter files, and social media for all of my Instagram images and anything associated with my private Facebook community.
The Internal folder is the hub of business operations for Copper Bottom Design Co.
The Customer Service folder is where I keep email templates so I can easily respond to new customer inquiries and FAQs. I keep all of my tax documents and contract templates in the Finances-Legal folder, and quote request forms, mailing lists, and vendor contact information in their respective folders.
The Goals + Planning folder is one of my favorites, #plannernerd. This is where I keep workflow calendars, my personal work schedule, and my in-house business schedule.
For more information on my business scheduling services, check out my strategy sessions.
I design and maintain the Copper Bottom website myself, so the Website folder holds a lot! The Images folder is the largest one in this group, which is the reason why I upgraded to Dropbox’s Plus plan.
The Brand Elements folder is probably my least used folder, but that doesn’t make it any less important. It’s so comforting to know that all of my logos and brand elements are in one place—and at my fingertips should I need to access them.
START ORGANIZING YOUR BUSINESS FILES TODAY
No matter where you choose to keep your business files, organizing them with a thoughtful system will greatly improve your productivity. I’ve found this system to be very effective and easy to use—and I hope you will too! Download my free File Organization Cheat Sheet below to start implementing this system in your business today.
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