Naming and Organizing Files and Folders Using 5S

5S is a Japanese method used for organizing things.  The 5Ss are seiri, seiton, seisō, seiketsu and shitsuke. These have been translated into:


Start looking at documents on your hard drive and cloud storage and remove anything you no longer need.

  • Start with the oldest files. Do you still need that file from 2014 that you no longer use? No? Delete it.
  • Do you have five versions of a file? Is the last one the final version? If so, delete the other four.
  • Still determining whether you will need something? Back it up, then delete.

Set in Order

To set in order means to put all necessary items in the optimal place. Use your folders to help keep files organized so you can find them when needed. Give the folders easy-to-identify names so you know exactly what is in each folder.

Quick Tips:

  • Keep names short.
  • Avoid using characters that conflict with cloud storage:  " * : < > ? / \ |
  • If you must put a date within the filename, always use the same format (e.g. yyyymmdd).
  • Use sequential numbering (01, 02, etc, instead of 1, 2, etc.).
  • If you store your documents in OneDrive or SharePoint, you won't need multiple files with different version numbers—both of these tools offer version control!
  • Create folders using names that make sense to you but avoid over-organizing. Think about a door—how many doors do you want to open to get to where you want to be? The same is true of folders.
  • Organize files to match the way you work. If you are used to having physical documents, think about how you would arrange them in a file cabinet. Your computer storage can work the same way! Examples:
    • Business managers: Create folders with years (2021-2022), then within that folder, create folders with department names or account numbers to file invoices and such.
    • Faculty and instructors: Create with years (2021-2022), then one for each class, and one folder for each student, filing important class documents within that folder.
    • Researchers: Create files or folders with researcher initials and a date format.
    • Anyone: Make it simple with these folders: Working or Drafts (files you are working on), Review (documents you need to review), Final (the final version), and Archive (files that don't fit in the other two folders).


Sweep, clean, and inspect your file storage regularly. Set aside a regular time (weekly, biweekly, or monthly) to look through storage for items that can be deleted or filed appropriately. Once you make the initial run-through, it should be quick and easy to “shine” regularly.


Establish procedures and schedules to ensure the repetition of the first three “S's. Standardize the way you store files. Use OneDrive to store your working documents “not ready to share” and use SharePoint to store documents that should be shared with other team members.


Ensure the 5S approach is followed. Sustaining change is often the most challenging part. After you decide on a schedule, mark the time on your Outlook calendar. Don’t know how to do that? Contact the Service Desk at 901.448.2222.

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Article ID: 135328
Thu 8/19/21 9:54 AM
Thu 4/25/24 9:37 AM

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