Organise your files. Properly

The most obvious use of Johnny.Decimal is in organising your folder structure.

the eskimo ice company inc.

This is a folder structure for a small company. The reasoning behind the folder naming structure is explained in depth in the reference guide.

Notice how we have four areas (with a red dot), each with a couple of categories (yellow). None of the areas or categories overlap. There's only one place anything can ever be. Even if you weren't familiar with this folder structure, you'd be able to find your way to the sales proposals directory.

Nothing is more than two clicks away, ever

An important restriction of the system is that you're not allowed to create any folders inside a Johnny.Decimal folder.

This means that you'll never get lost in layers upon layers of folders. It also makes you create quite specific folders for each thing, ensuring that you can always find what you want.

Tell people where things are

Two scenarios for you: which would you choose?

“Jim, where's the payroll schedule for 2016?”

“Okay um, go to the shared folder. I think it's in ‘Payroll’. No, sorry, it's in ‘Excel docs’. Yeah. Now click in there and go to ‘2016’. Can you see it? Oh hang on, Bob in accounts put that one somewhere else. I think I have a copy in my email, let me have a look. I've got it, it's in ‘Financial information’, then in ‘Bob's files’, then in ‘Payroll’, then look for the one with 2016 in the name.”

“Jane, where's the payroll schedule?”

“Twelve dot oh-three.”

Thanks, Jane.

Open files and folders instantly

Because your folders contain the Johnny.Decimal number, you can open them without reaching for the mouse.

Mac users

Press ⌘+space to bring up Spotlight. Type a Johnny.Decimal number. Press Return. (If you like this sort of thing, check out Alfred. It's amazing.)

Windows users

Click on the Start button. Type a Johnny.Decimal number in the Search programs and files box. Press Return.

Use it across your entire project

I've just introduced a system which relies entirely on 5 characters of plain text. No special program, nothing the IT guy needs to install, nothing your firewall at work is going to block, no special API or language to learn. You just type numbers with your keyboard.

This means you can use your Johnny.Decimal numbers everywhere. Email? Put them in your subject line and you've instantly categorised every email you send (which helps you when someone replies). Project plan? Use your numbers to be able to instantly filter based on category—regardless of the project management software you're using.

Tag things in real life

If you deal with real physical objects that also relate to something on your computer—we're just about to send an order of chorizo to Spain, and need to remember who it's for—just write the Johnny.Decimal number on a sticky note and attach it to the thing.

Tab completion at the command line

Navigate to any folder with the minimum number of keypresses at the command line. If you know what this means, you should already be a little bit excited. If you don't, don't worry about it. It's a thing nerds do. Go outside instead, I've heard it's lovely.

...and whatever else you think of

Because I don't control this system, I'm just giving you an idea. Do whatever you like with it: dream up ideas that never occurred to me. Use it for things that I wouldn't understand.

Just be organised, and be happy.