Getting organized often tops the list of New Year’s resolutions. In fact, it was the second most popular resolution, only falling behind losing weight. When you think of getting organized, what first comes to mind is your house, your desk or even more general – your life. But what about your digital life? We live in a digital era where we spend a majority of our time on our computers or mobile devices. Don’t they deserve the same attention? If working on a computer is part of your job, you know it’s easy to let things get out of control. From duplicate files to maxed out storage, it’s essential to consistently spend time organizing. Not quite there and not sure where to start? Here are a few ways to better organize your computer:
1. Declutter Your Desktop
The simple act of decluttering can rest the mind and result in higher productivity. If you cringe each time you turn on your computer and your desktop appears, it’s time for a cleanup. Only keep files on your desktop that you access on a daily basis. All other files and folders should be tucked away for when you need them. If you’re in the habit of saving files to your desktop throughout the day, make a point of doing a 5 minute cleanse at the end of each day so your desktop is clean, fresh and ready for you the next morning.
2. Delete Duplicate & Unneeded Files
Permanently deleting files is a challenge, but is a necessity. Go through all your files – and we mean ALL your files – and make sure only the ones that are needed are kept. If you’re really hesitant to permanently delete, save them in a folder for a month or two and when you realize that you actually don’t need them, then delete them. The amount of duplicate and unnecessary files pile up over the years, so the more you stay on top of them, the more manageable it becomes.
3. Create Shortcuts
When it comes to decluttering your desktop, shortcuts are a great tool. Instead of having folders saved in two places or some folders on your desktop and others throughout your computer, have one main folder with shortcuts to your important folders on your desktop. This especially comes in handy when backing up your files.
4. Make Space
Now that you’ve deleted your files, to create more space on your computer, delete unused apps as well. Chances are you don’t use every app installed on your computer and they are just taking up valuable space. You can always reinstall them if you do find a need for them down the road. A couple other ways to free up some space are to empty your trash and download folders.
5. Use Folders Effectively
The keyword here is effectively. Most of us are using folders, but are they making your life easier or are you still losing track of files? When it comes to folders, our strategy is simplicity. There’s no need to create folders, upon folders, upon folders. Sub-folders are very helpful, but if you’re folder structure goes too deep, you’ll get lost in the search. Create a folder structure that is simple and makes sense and continually revisit the structure to ensure you’re using them effectively.
6. Title Files Appropriately
You likely aren’t applying metadata and keywords to all of the files on your computer, so use your titles for keywords. If you can’t remember where you’ve saved a file, using the search functionality is a major time-saver. Each time you save a file, make sure the title is relevant. Also, use dates, locations or version numbers to get a little more specific.
7. Keep Work & Personal Files Separate
When working across multiple devices, it’s easy for files to end up on one or the other. You may upload a few family photos on your work computer or work from home a couple days a week saving files on your desktop. Try to keep your files where they belong. This will avoid any lost or misplaced files when you just can’t remember where you saved it.
9. Take Your Time
Like any organization project, it takes time. Depending on the size of your mess, it could take 3-4 hours or 3-4 weeks. Don’t rush through it. Make sure you’re taking the proper steps to do it right. And don’t think you need to power through it and get it done immediately. Spend and hour or two a day working on it to make it a little less daunting.
9. Maintain a Routine
Once you’ve completed organizing your computer, you’ll feel at ease and maybe even a little lighter. Don’t let that feeling go. Schedule a time each week or month to do a quick cleanse of your computer for continual maintenance. It will make you more efficient in the long run.
10. Use An Online Tool
If you’re using up way too much storage on your computer and your files are really out of control, use an online tool to move your files to the cloud and simplify organization. There are plenty of options available tailored to different needs. From Dropbox to Barberstock, these tools are designed to save you time, improve efficiency and make your life easier.