Organization helps you find and sort through your data and makes it easier to use your data in the future.
The most important thing for organization is to have a system and use it consistently. Here are several options for organization:
You can also use these systems in combination.
Basically, figure out a system that works for your data (does not have to be listed here) and stick to it.
By file type (draft, figure, table, etc.)
A PI's collection of grad student data:
Consistent file naming means you can tell at a glance what a file contains. This is useful for searching through content, for organizing data, and for collaborations/your own reuse.
Use consistent naming for groups of related files. Pick 2-3 things that will help you distinguish a file's contents, such as:
Combine into a pattern for naming your files. Follow these other rules:
"20140422_PikeLake_03", "20140424_EastLake_12", etc.
"Smith-2010-ImpactOfStressOnSeaMonkeys", "Hailey-1999-VeryImportantDNAStudy", etc.