Updated: Jan 22
As you start creating games or even working through training material, you will quickly realize the importance of organization. I'm sure you are wondering what this even has to do with Game Design on a Budget? Well, if you are spending more time trying to find your files than working, you are losing a lot of productivity.
I am a very organized person in general, but I decided to not be as critical when starting on games as I figured I would be able to clean everything up later. That backfired on me as I then needed to spend a lot of my free time trying to setup folders correctly and make them easy to navigate with what I needed. I still don't have everything sorted out right, but I do know where I need to go to start now.
I good habit would be to setup all of your folders that you will be needing first and then using one structure as a template for your game. If you know you will need all of the folders when you start your game project and don't want to create them as you go along, you could just have a set of empty folders created and then just copy them into the corrected location.
Another thing you will need to think of is all of your resources that you gather from the Internet and use for creating objects. You will want to navigate to all of your downloaded content and take what you need when you need it. The more projects you work on the more complicated it can all be.
I use a Dashboard of sorts to navigate all of my files. This includes my schedules, projects, resources, spreadsheets, etc. Creating a Dashboard is relatively easy and can be done in a number of programs. My Dashboard is in PDF format and was created as a PDF, but you can create one in Excel, PowerPoint or even Word.
The main reason I use a Dashboard is because even though I have my folders organized pretty decently, I still don't to navigate through tons of folders to find certain items. By creating quick links to locations I can jump right to where I need to be in a couple of seconds and get right to work. Depending on what you use to create your Dashboard, you can set it up to open your programs and have them all in one location. You most likely have them all a click away on your desktop, but it is another option to consider.
Try to get in the habit of organizing your content and using templates where possible, because every second you spend trying to find or create something is time taken away from working on your game content.