My computer’s hard disks fill up faster than my cupboards and currently I have only 2 GB of free space on my primary hard drive. I have data everywhere! Seriously… it’s rather scary. You know exactly what I am talking about: email inboxes are overflowing while photos, files, and folders are piling up on the computer desktop. Not to forget the videos, movies and interesting websites that I have every intention of visiting again. My music library too, is now bursting at the seams.
Spring cleaning typically meant dusting out corners and straightening up clutter – but now I need to tackle my digital chaos. Bulky email folders and full hard drives slow down the fastest computers and can lead to frustrating digital disasters.
You too can follow my steps to digitally unclutter and organise for a more enjoyable, fresh and productive experience. Don’t underestimate the value of uncluttering your computer. The benefits far outweigh the time investment that is required.
- Unclutter Your Desktop: Treat your desktop as you would the top of your actual desk and keep only active files and shortcuts there for convenience. Use your My Documents folders for more lasting storage. Remove unnecessary shortcuts that clutter the screen.
- Organize your Files: Once your desktop is sparkling clean, take a look through your folders. Can you consolidate? Are there old files you can remove, or drafts that are no longer relevant? Remember, your time is valuable and storage space is plentiful, so archiving to a folder or external storage space is usually a better use of time than wading through lots of old documents.
- Do an application inventory: Look through the applications on your computer. Note the last time you used them, as well as how often you use them. An easy way to do this if you’re a Windows user is to go to your Control Panel, and click “Add or Remove Programs”. From this window, you can see a list of (almost) all your installed software, as well as sort them based on frequency of use or the last time you used them. This will give you an idea of how ‘necessary’ a program is in your everyday life. Uninstall any applications that you have not used and do not plan to use.
- Streamline your Inbox: Do you really need to send those attachments via email? Save your large files to an online storage drive like Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) or even Google docs. Easily upload videos, photos and files, and share them with whomever you’d like – without overloading their inbox.
- Email Overload: Practice the “A.R.T.” of e-mail reduction. Process your emails by categorizing them into Action, Reference, or Trash. File your mail in specific folders and unsubscribe from all promotional email that is not of interest and is filling up your mailbox.
- Back up Important Files: This is important! Your valuable photos and documents are irreplaceable. By saving them to an external hard drive, you’ll never worry about losing precious memories and information.
- Optimize Your Computer’s Performance: For greater efficiency and avoiding technical problems, remember to update and run important utilities like spyware and virus scans and defragment your hard drive periodically.
- Organize Your Favorites: Find and access your favorite web links from anywhere and share them easily with your friends through online bookmarking. Organize your favorites in your favorite browser and synchronize them with an online storage drive, and you can access them from any computer and keep them up to date as you find new things to remember and share online.
- Utilize the Cloud: The cloud is just fancy terminology for saving your data to online services that host your data on their servers, not your computer. For example, if you use Google Docs or Zoho you are utilizing the cloud by having them store your documents. Another example of the power of the cloud is streaming audio and video like Pandora, Last.fm, or Hulu. Think about your watching or listening habits– could you possibly replace the actual files on your computer with a streaming service?
It actually takes very little to keep the computer happy. Now my hard drive is has much more free space and my computer significantly faster. Conquering clutter Guru Peter Walsh would have been proud of my efforts to declutter and change my digital world from chaos to calm. If uncluttering your digital workspace seems a daunting task, realize that you don’t have to do it all at once. Making small but regular steps can make a difference in the long run.