The most efficient method, in my opinion, is to NOT store the exported JPGs. When you export a photo, you do that for a specific use (such as e-mail, or web, or to send to a printer). After that, they have no use, so to continue to organize them is just additional effort for not any recognizable benefit to me.
What I do is to keep my original edited RAWs in my Lightroom catalog, and manage those. After I export and make use of an exported photo, I delete the exported photos. I know that if I ever need that exported photo in the future (which is rare), I can always export the photo again and get the exact same JPG image.
This is the method that not only makes the most sense to me, but also requires the least effort, while maintaining complete safety and organization. Your description of what you are currently doing indicates to me that you sense you are putting a huge amount of effort and aren't sure that this effort is worthwhile. In my opinion, you would benefit greatly from changing your workflow.
I agree with DJ about the exported JPGs. After you have used them for whatever purpose you exported them for, there is no need to keep them since you can reproduce them at will. I don't tend to re-edit my photos after they have been exported. However, "virtual copies" can come in handy for that purpose.
I organize my pictures by category, subcategory, date. For example:
Under each date folder I have two folders "originals" and "exported".
That all started before I started using Lightroom. I don't do much in the way of keywording.
I have separate catalogs for my event photography grouped by year for archiving purposes. The images are organized similarly on disk. Here keywording and sets get a little more use.
Thanks DJ and ManiacJoe
This is very helpful
This is exactly what I used to do. I used to edit my images in LR and/or a third party program and then bring the images back to LR and keep them as Raws. However, either through reading too much or lack of understanding of LR, i ended up exporting all my files in Jpegs (to save space - which is failing as now I am keeping both) and to ensure that all my "edits" have been saved as an image. I think (and please correct me if I am wrong) that as LR is non destructive editing, the edits have not been saved on the image and hence if something was to happen to my LR catalog or something else fails, the edits will be lost. I may have image backups and raws saved which can be brought into LR in this case, however, the editing performed on these will have been lost? @DJ, when you mention that they are safe, does that mean that if I have backed up my catalog and open it up separately, my "edits" will remain on the images?
This is what I was hoping to avoid. I would much prefer to just keep Raws "edited" and export them only when need to.
My other question is if having these edited Raws will slow lightroom down as the size of the catalog will be larger. I have a fairly decent imac so dont really have this problem but its more if it becomes an issue long term.
I store all my exported images in the same folder as the original and stacked with it. No problems. LR can store vast numbers of images in the same catalog, so I understand. No need to delete anything that might possibly be of use later.
the edits have not been saved on the image and hence if something was to happen to my LR catalog or something else fails, the edits will be lost
The edits are not lost, they are in your catalog. You need to make backups of your catalog file, and backups of your photos. You need to restore both catalog file and photos to the exact same location that the originals were in. It's an extremely simple thing to do with most backup software. And when this is done properly, all of your edits remain.
My other question is if having these edited Raws will slow lightroom down as the size of the catalog will be larger.
The catalog size does depend on the number of images, but as the number of images increases, there should be no noticeable slow down in most LR functions. This is such an important and misunderstood concept that I'm going to say it again, in bold. The catalog size does depend on the number of images, but as the number of images increases, there should be no noticeable slow down in most LR functions.
The exceptions would be that making a backup of your LR catalog could take longer as the number of images increase, and searching the full catalog will be slightly slower, but that's pretty much it. If I were you,I'd stop worrying about the size of your catalog.