Organizing Shared Google Docs

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By Chris Winans

Chris Winans is an organizational geek and guru (a geeku?). His suggestions on how to get more done with Google Docs and Google Drive are in this 3-part series:

Part 1: Google Docs and Drive: What to Love About Them
Part 2: Make Google Drive Your New File Management System
Part 3: Organizing Shared Google Docs

Questions? Just let Chris know via Comments and we’ll get our resident geeku to help you get organized using Google products.

ALL OF MY COLLEAGUES at Conversion Max are appreciating the functionality of Google Docs, but several of them were belly-aching about locating company folders within their “Shared With Me” folder. We needed to simplify locating the shared folders, so I discovered a way to make a dramatic improvement to the way files and folders are organized.

Before showing you the solution, here’s a visual of what the problem looked like:


When you open a “shared with me” folder, a list appears showing all the files and folders other people have shared with you.  As you can imagine, over time the list can get to be quite large–my list, for example, actually goes on for two additional pages beyond what’s shown above.

Where the heck are the shared folders?

The problem we determined was this: the shared folders created for company file management were dispersed throughout about a dozen other shared files. It was becoming too cumbersome to locate them, and as we’re all aware when processes become cumbersome, we aren’t too excited about following them.

The Solution:

I discovered a really simple way to clean up the mess. By cicking and dragging the root level shared folder then dropping it on “My Drive” in the Google Drive menu.  (Note the root level folder is named “CONVERSIONMAX shared” in this example):


The administrator of the shared folders

As an administrator/owner of a root level folder, note that the folder is going to automatically appear in the correct location for you under “My Drive.” But, for your colleagues, it’s not going to show up in the same place. Instead it will be buried within “Shared With Me” until they move it into their personal “My Drive.” The point being that just because a folder structure looks good for you as the administrator, you shouldn’t assume it’s looks the same for everyone else on your team–or across your company. You’ll need to tell others how to move the folder as I have explained above.

More cleanup!

After you’ve gotten your colleagues to move the root level folder to the correct location, it’s time for some additional file cleanup!  I recommend having everyone go through their “Shared With Me” files to move them into the appropriate folders within the company shared folders. This can be done with a simple click & drag just like we did for the root-level folder.

I hope this is helpful for all you Google Doc’s & Google Drive users. I welcome your comments, or information that you’d like to share about file management!

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Chris Winans

Chris brings more than 11 years of experience in project management and writes about applying that to web. Over the years, he has worked in many different roles including strategic planning, marketing, sales, accounting, and customer relations management (CRM). Chris' goal is to bring the various parts of the company together for a seamless and high-quality experience for clients. Chris holds a B.A. degree from Linfield College and has studied marketing, web development and digital media. He's also a Google AdWords Qualified Individual. As an avid outdoorsman, he enjoys skiing, cycling, backpacking, and landscape photography. He also enjoys time with his wife and two kids, ages six and eight.

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