That first homework assignment of the year hits, your child opens her Google Drive and whoa. If it was a desk, papers would be spilling out everywhere and you’d be getting a recycling bin and a broom. And maybe some Lysol.
But it’s all digital, so how do you tame last year’s digital clutter and clear the decks for a brand new school year? The steps to organizing Google Drive for back to school are simple: Out With the Old, In With the New, and then Make it Pretty and Keep it That Way.
Out With the Old
If your child is in middle school or high school and has been in the same school system for a while, she could have years’ worth of documents and files all jumbled up in one folder, many with the name “Untitled Document.” If you or she really, really, need to, you can spend the day opening each file and putting it in the right folder. But thanks to Google Drive’s “Search” feature and the way most teachers work, she’ll probably never need anything from previous years. So I recommend sweeping it all under the rug.
- Create a folder entitled “___grade and older” (fill in the blank with last year’s grade).
- Click and drag, or click one file and use shift and the up or down arrows to select as many files as you can. Drag them into the “old stuff” folder. Repeat until you have all the old stuff hidden away. All you should see is the one folder.
In With the New
Now it’s time to create a system so this year’s documents don’t end up looking like all the old stuff.
- Create a folder for the current year. Call it “__ grade.”
- Double click on that folder and open it up.
- Inside that folder, create a folder for each class. English, Math, Spanish, Science, Social Studies. Create them for any electives that are likely to have computer work, but if a class like Band or PE won’t have any documents, it doesn’t need a folder. Remember, these folders are free, quick to create, and easy to delete, so I err on the side of making more folders, rather than fewer.
Make it Pretty
In this step, you can add color to the folders, or add period numbers to the names of the folders if you want them in schedule instead of alphabetical order.
- Right click on the folder title.
- Click “change color.”
- Choose a color that matches the physical binder or folder for that class. Teachers might assign each class a color, but if not, your child should pick a color for each class to make organizing easier all year.
Use it wisely
Now that you’ve spent all this time organizing the Drive, it’s time for your child to take over. There are a couple habits that will help your child keep their folders organized and functional.
- When you’re doing work for a class, open that class’s folder. Any document you create will be filed right in the open folder. That way there’s no “remembering to file it.”
- Name your documents! If your teacher doesn’t have specific rules for naming files you send or share with him, I suggest using just a few words about what the assignment is about, like, “math chart” or “vocabulary list.” You can search Google Drive, which is very helpful, but it’s easier to search if you give it a title that tells you what’s in it.
- Review once in a while. At the end of the month, or at least at the end of the marking period, spend a few minutes cleaning up any stray files from the last few weeks of school to keep things clear.
That’s about it. Google Drive is an excellent, user-friendly tool for students and adults alike. They are adding more helpful features all the time and I’m hoping it will be around for a long time. So the time you spend helping your child develop systems for staying digitally organized with Google Drive now will save them a huge amount of time for years to come!
If you’d like to see these steps in action, check out my YouTube video: How to Organize Your Google Drive Folders for School.