If left unmanaged your Google Drive can quickly become chaos. This chaos can lead to wasted time and energy. On this page you will learn how to use Google Drive and Google Docs to organize your school's information..

Organizing your Google Drive

Organize your folders by school year and have an organizational documents folder

One of the easiest ways to organize your Google Drive is to create a folder for the school year. At the beginning of ever school year I create a folder for that year and label it with the school year (e.g. 18-19, 19-20, etc.) Everything that I create during that year is placed into that folder. Even if you do not create sub folders this will help with making sure everything is organized by school year.

For your documents that do not change year to year you can create an Organizational Documents folder.

Create an archive folder

If the sidebar of your Google Drive is starting to feel crowded consider creating an 🗄️ Archive folder. Place any files or folders in your Archive that you still need but do not need to see on a daily basis. For example at the end of every school year or big project I move my school year folder to the Archive. Since the Archive folder is a regular folder in your Google Drive you can still view everything in it by navigating with the sidebar.

Add a file to multiple folders

Ever have a file that you want to place in multiple folders? In your Google Drive click on the name of the file and then press Shift + Z on your keyboard. This will bring up a screen that says "Add to Folder". Use this pop up to navigate to the folder where you want to place the file and then click the green Add button.

Use a common naming convention

Like most Google products the search feature in Drive is super powerful. One way I have found to make it even better is to use a naming convention for your files. Naming conventions allow us to quickly see important information about a file before we even open it.

For example if I just called a Google Sheet Bell Schedule there would be no quick way to identify what year it is for or if I work at multiple sites what site it is for. Instead consider naming your file 19-20 My School Bell Schedule. By only looking at the file name you can quickly identify what the file is about, who it is for, and when it is for.

Use colors to quickly identify a folder

You can make your folders more colorful by right clicking on the name of the folder and then selecting change color. This is a small visual tweak but it can be a huge time saver!

Use emojis to quickly identify a folder

Adding an emoji to your folders in Google Drive helps you quickly identify a folder. To add an emoji to your Google Drive go to Search for the emoji you want to use and copy it. Go back to your Google Drive, right click on the folder name, and then click on rename. Paste in the emoji you copied earlier. If you place the emoji at the beginning of the folder title it will place the folder at the top of your Google Drive.

Create Workspaces

One of the easiest ways to create chaos in your Google Drive is to create a new file for everything. In my drive I have a Google Doc, Slide, Sheet, and Drawing labeled Workspace. If I need to quickly do something that I do not plan on saving I go into these files. Think of these files like a whiteboard where you temporarily record your thoughts or ideas.

Bonus! Place links to your workspaces in your bookmarks bar so you can easily access them!

Organize your drive from inside a file

Google Drive defaults to placing everything in your top drive folder. Most people think that to organize your drive you need to go to the main drive folder to organize the files. In reality you can actually organize your files from within the file. Next to the name of the file you will see a star and folder. To move a file into a Google Drive folder click on the folder icon and then navigate to the folder where you want to place the file.

Adjusting a file url

Force a copy

If you are sharing a template with someone you can force them to make a copy of the file by adding the word copy to the url. For example instead of sharing the url

delete edit?usp=sharing and write the word copy after the/. Below is the completed URL.

View before copying

The force copy trick is awesome but it can cause you to have extra files in your drive that you do not need. If you receive a force copy link and want to preview the file before making a copy simply erase the word copy and change it to view. Doing this will open up the file as a view only document.

Google Doc Hub

If you are not a search Google Drive search wizard it can be hard to quickly find important documents. To help people quickly find documents consider creating a Google Doc hub.

Why You Should Use A Hub

1. Many workers spend as much as 20% of their work week looking for internal information that they need to accomplish tasks, whether that’s digging through folders of documents or tracking down a colleague to answer their questions. (source)

2. Think of this doc as a table of contents for your staff. You do not have to include every bit of information like you would a handbook. You just need to link to important docs.

3. Using a Google Doc ensures that your staff always has the current version. No need to publish before staff can see changes!

4. Google Docs are mobile friendly. Most of us do not carry our laptops all day long. We do however have our phones.

5. Categorizing your documents makes it easy to find information.

Examples of Google Doc Hubs