Here’s How to Organize Your Digital Clutter Once and for All

Here's How to Organize Your Digital Clutter Once and for All

This post was written by Abby Quillen.

There is a connection between excessive junk and other areas of your life. When your desk is messy, or your closet is in a chaotic state it’s unsettling, and can stop you from completing other tasks.

Decluttering is a chore, but it can have a huge effect on both your personal and professional life.

Getting rid of digital clutter is not that hard.

Unlike a purge of your closet, or storage unit, digital clutter is easy to discard. You won’t need garbage bags, or boxes, and you won’t have to take multiple trips to goodwill.

When digital data piles up, it slows you and your devices down. It hinders your ability to be productive. In this article, we’ll offer advice and strategies to get your digital clutter under control.

Taking Control of Your Digital Clutter

1. Get Organized.

The first thing you need to do is identify the problem. If you need to use the search function to find a file on your desktop, or documents folder, you’ve got a problem.

Even a little structure can help you declutter, share, move, and easily track down files.

Follow these steps and you’ll start to notice a massive difference in the efficiency of you and your devices.

2. Have Categories and Folders.

Instead of organizing by location, organize by category.

It may be tempting to start with your desktop because it’s the first thing you see when you start up your computer. But by moving through each category, your desktop will be decluttered naturally.

Start by creating folders for every file you have. Pictures, videos, documents, and music should have their own folder. Sub-categories like medical records and bank statements, can also have their own folder in your Documents folder.

3. Create Naming Guidelines.

Develop a consistent, meaningful, and descriptive way to name each of your files.

Documents: descriptive keywords-type of document ex: digital-decluttering-article

Images: descriptive keywords-month-year ex: Headshots-July-2017

Emails: Use descriptive subject headings ex: Marketing, or Internal

Like any large task, the hardest part is getting started. Depending on how long you’ve left it, decluttering your digital past could take a long time. You’ll need to go through everything on your computer, mobile devices, external hard drive(s), or in the cloud. Before you start, tell yourself that this is a necessary project and the result will be worth the effort, then dig in!

Start by purging the following:

  • Poor quality photos and videos;
  • Duplicates and extremely similar photos;
  • Photos or videos that are no longer meaningful, or hold sentimental value to you.

4. Backup Important Files.

Now that your unimportant files are gone, make sure that you back up everything that remains. Hard drives don’t last forever and the last thing you want is to lose your important files to malware, viruses, or a technical issue with the hard drive itself.

Experts recommend saving important data in three locations.

For instance, save one copy on your computer’s hard drive, one in a cloud service, and one on an external hard drive.

Instead of decluttering when there’s an issue with your computer, set up a decluttering schedule to stay on top of everything.

While a “once a year” purge will feel good at the end, some files, and emails don’t have to stick around in your inbox for months.

Now that you have eliminated the digital devices, apps, files, and emails are taking from your life rather than giving to it, you’ll feel less overwhelmed when you start up your computer in morning. And will log off without feeling the dread of your digital mess.

Most importantly, the what you see on your screen will be the things you need to see.

Here’s an infographic on how to downsize your digital clutter by the eReplacementParts Blog.

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