I’d always wondered why people have such difficulty understanding folder and file management. It wasn’t because their lives were disorganized. It’s because they have a basic misconception. Their visual image of a “file” is a manila file folder. Picture the boss asking his secretary to bring him “the Anderson file.” Of course, it is actually a “folder” full of papers. A recent client enlightened me to this error when she asked, “A file is the same as a folder, right?” No! I wanted to draw pictures to change her mental model of a file and a folder.
The next concept that is hard for some to understand is the subdivision of folders. When I say “subfolder” to a client, I still don’t convey something meaningful. I have some examples, and I hope one of them will ring a bell. 1) I suggest thinking of the list of folders as if it were an outline—the kind we learned to create when we were in junior high. Each new level is indented. 2) I suggest an organizational chart or a family tree, but such charts are usually laid out on paper differently from the folders and subfolders.
Do you have any helpful analogies?