How messy is your digital life?

Overflowing dustbin

Try our Ninja tricks for tidying up fast and making your file systems and email Inbox run smoothly.

How much do you like filing? If you’re anything like me, filing feels like an uncomfortable use of my time on this planet. It’s boring. But it needs to get done, nevertheless.

Now I’m not talking about paper folders or even dreary journals, I’m talking about the digital stuff. The stuff that lives on our hard drives and in our email inboxes. What’s your digital filing hygiene like?

Hands up. I’m one of those people who was like the equivalent of an infectious disease when it came to creating ‘files’.

If my handwriting wasn’t bad enough, my digital storage habits were even more unfathomable. Until I had the brilliant idea of marrying a tech genius, who loves his files. And order.

I’ve acquired some fabulous tech habits which are easy, fast, effective, and well within the capabilities of a busy Clinician. If I can clean up, so can you.

If your digital documents or inbox folders are more ‘zoo’ than ‘zen’, here are my…

Private Practice Ninja Tips

…for restoring order and sanity to your tech life.

It’s a given: We all have files outside of our patient documents that we need to store. For example, appraisal files and word docs, emailed conference hotel room receipts, or even PowerPoint presentations for lectures we are giving to Physios and Osteos.

  Here’s how to get better digital file and folder management.

It’s time to wipe the slate clean and start anew again.

Open up your desktop or laptop and go to that scary place on the computer where you ‘store stuff’. Chances are, it’s in the ‘Documents’ folder. Open the Documents folder and make a new subfolder which you should name appropriately (e.g. ‘bad old days’). We’re going to tuck away what is currently lurking there and start with a new hierarchy of fresh folders going forwards. You can go rummaging around in the dirt for whatever you need from the past, as and when you want to retrieve it – it won’t have gone anywhere, it will merely be out of sight.

Drag all of your existing folders in your ‘bad old days file’. Breathe a sigh of relief when you see just one folder sitting there in your docments folder. Next, we need to make some new folder management habits going forwards.

The first discipline is to re-think how you name your folders.

Here’s the thing about folder names. You need to remember them. It’s a bit like that embarrassing moment when you are trying to introduce two people to each other, and their names are magically sucked into that ‘name black hole’ in the centre of your head, never to be retrieved. Digital filing needs to be really searchable, because you’re probably not going to be able to remember in two years time, where you stored that pretty little ‘SPECT CT’ scan image.

The best way to rename folders is to use a ‘common word stem’ at the beginning of that folder name. This makes it very easy to hunt down amongst the weeds. If you’re stashing folders together for a task or a project, it makes sense to start by calling the folder name with the same project word.

For example: If you are prepping for your GDPR compliance, you could put…
GDPR 2018 followed by a space, followed by whatever it is the file contains is a good way to start.

They might look like this…
GDPR 2018 Privnotice
GDPR 2018 Cookieslist

Abbreviate wherever you can, and don’t make the mistake of making your folder names too long.

Once your folders are organised, you can save files within the folders – however you choose.

However, it’s still a good idea to have some reference in the filename to record what it relates to.

Why? If you attach a file to an email, from a well named folder, but the file name is ‘todays-notes.doc’, the recipient might save it, and months later have no clue what ‘todays-notes.doc’ relates to. A better way to record the file would be to call it e.g. ‘Meeting notes Clinical Governance August 2018.doc’.

Great, that’s the folders and files cared for, but what about those photos you have been snapping in readiness for your social media campaigns and website blogs? It’s always better to start by naming these with a ‘back-to-front’ date order.

You’re going to have a single ‘top-level’ photo folder on your hard drive, and then you’re going to make a set of files according to the year going forward (so, 2018, and then 2019 etc.) You are only going to need to make one of these initially, after you’ve ‘disappeared’ those old files.

Let’s imagine, in October of this year, you took some photos of the pilates class that you teach.

You’d name it: 2018-the month-the day- one or two words that describe what the picture depicted.

Which would look like this on the screen…

2018 [folder]

2018-10-18-pilatesclass [subfolder]

Bring all of your 2018 images dated in this way into the ‘2018’ file, and it will make it eminently more searchable.

Practice Ninja Golden Nugget of information.


How to: Find the files you want and move them into your healthy new storage system from your ‘bad old days’ file.

A great way of searching for files amongst the dross you have stashed in the past is to get into the habit of using the ‘wildcard’ technique. This is where the humble asterisk becomes your friend.

Most of us will have in our documents folder, a mixture of different file types, for example jpegs, excel sheets, word documents PowerPoint presentations etc.

Let’s say you wanted to pull up photos from 2017….

Open your old file and click into the search box at the top right, enter *jpg in your search box. This also works for hunting for PowerPoint presentations, for example, *pptx which will pull up all of the PowerPoint presentations.

What’s this all about?

It’s using what are called ‘file extensions’ which identify the type of files that lurk in your folders. They are arranged by date order, which you can easily scan through visually to find that killer talk you did about post-nasal drip.

OK, so let’s say you need to find photos taken in 2017. You would go to your 2017 folder, search for *jpg and then you could quickly display by thumbnails and visually scan through the images.
How much easier is that, than slugging through each and every folder, to find the image you were looking for?

Let’s do it the Ninja way.

  What about emails?

If you’ve been away on holidays and have a gigantic email inbox to come home to, why not let your email software help you to sort through this in a more logical fashion?

In ‘Outlook’ and many other email software systems, you can use the ‘person sent’ option to be able to search the emails. This will provide you with a great long list of names plus listed emails underneath it. Collapse down that list so that you just have the sender names and the number of emails visible.

There will no doubt be several folk you can ditch straight away.

For example: (because you can’t afford any new tempting offers, given that you’ve just been away). (ditto to those appealing, yet expensive offers of a new TV, shoes or some eye wateringly expensive olive oil), and those random and annoying email from that USA firm selling camera drones that you haven’t gotten around to unsubscribing from.

Here is how to delete in one big hit !

You can then hold down the ‘Ctrl’ button and single left click the mouse for Windows, or hold down the ‘Command’ button and single left click the mouse for Mac, and repeat the mouse click to select each email senders’ group of messages. Then hit ‘delete’.

This helps you get rid of a lot of ‘chaff’ to then leave you with the ‘wheat’. Yep, maybe tricky to master. 5 minutes later, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.

  Feeling a little queasy when you look at your email inbox layout?

Here is how to start afresh. It’s transformational.

Go to your Inbox area and immediately underneath it create a new folder called ‘to sort.’ This is where you are going to put all of the evil ‘stuff’. You are going to dump all of your inbox folders and files into this ‘to sort’ category.

To do this you click on an email then press ‘Ctrl’ A (Windows) or ‘Option’ A (Mac) to select everything in your inbox and drag it into the new folder. Seems a little scary doesn’t it? Don’t worry it’s not gone anywhere, it’s purely moved into a new folder.
Psychologically this gives you a real boost when you see there is a vast white expanse in your inbox area. Now you are going to make some ‘top-level folders’. These are going to be tidy and very searchable.

Steady now – you are only going to allow yourself to have eleven of these.

Keep it to 00 to 10 at max for these super important folders, and have a space between ‘00’ or ‘01’ etc and the folder description.

Think about the kind of emails you receive on a regular basis. These might messages from professional colleagues, it could be things you’ve purchased or it might be things to do with tech, such as Go Daddy updates. You’re going to name each folder with a general ‘top-level’ name and you are going to start off with it being numerically named so that it stays in a beautiful list in your inbox. That way it makes it very easy for you to navigate your way around.

For example, you could start with:
00 Professional
01 Invoices and Purchases
02 Tech
…You get the idea

Within these folders, you can (and should) then put subcategory folders. You are far better off having a few ‘top-level’ folders than having a gigantic long drawn out smorgasbord of a menu.

Give it a go.

If you’re struggling to get order in your digital world and would like help with setting up better email or a digital filing systems, then get in touch today. We can help you sort out your Private Practice tech headaches. Call Jules on 07500 834894, or email

  Private Practice Ninja has launched its own Tech Clinic, and we’ll very soon be opening on-line booking for Ninja Tech help sessions, that you can book at a time that suits you.

More in our next Ninja blog!

If you feel like your Private Practice needs help with systems, gaining referrals, effective ways to work within social media or if you have got any questions about GDPR. Please do not hesitate to… 

Get in touch!

Together we can grow your Private Practice.



email or call us 0207 993 6425 http://www.instagram/privatepracticeninja



Get in touch!

Together we can grow your Private Practice.



email or call us 0207 993 6425