January 5, 2023
Organizing your digital life can improve productivity, peace of mind, and cybersecurity. It requires a bit of a time investment, but if you regularly attend to clearing out and organizing your desktop, email inbox, and cloud-based storage, it won’t be so daunting.
Start with your desktop
Your desktop is the most visibly cluttered part of your digital life so let’s start there. Go through all those files, images, and screenshots blocking that idyllic background photo of a beach in Tahiti and start deleting and organizing. Trash any files you no longer need and create umbrella folders for the rest. Umbrella folders are large folders based on a simple organization system such as “Personal”, “Business”, and “Other” or “Client Work,” “Internal Work”, and “Personal Work.” Then create smaller sub-folders within the umbrella folders to further organize those files you’d like to save.
Clear out your downloads folder
Your downloads folder can fill up fast and this can both make it difficult to find the files you actually need and slow your computer down. Go through this folder, delete whatever files you no longer need and file the rest either in your new desktop folders or in OneDrive or Google Drive.
Use helpful file names
When creating or downloading a new file, name it something that clearly indicates the file’s purpose and where it should live on your device. This will make it much easier to search and locate the file in the future.
Simplify your taskbar or dock
Your taskbar (Windows) or dock (Mac) is the row of icons typically located at the bottom of your screen. These icons represent programs you currently have running or have recently used. The taskbar can fill up quickly and go from a helpful shortcut to an overwhelming display of programs - most of which you may rarely use. Fortunately, you can hide those programs you rarely use from view and rearrange the icons by following these steps for Windows and these for Mac.
Tackle your inbox
Your email inbox can be the most overwhelming place on your computer, especially if you don’t have an organization system in place. Fortunately, we have an entire blog post on how to organize your inbox in Outlook and we recommend checking out this post for Gmail tips.
Do you have more app subscriptions than you can keep track of? Most of us have autopay set up for our subscriptions which is both convenient and a little risky. How many subscriptions for online applications and software have you just let renew regardless of whether you use them or not? Now’s the time to go through your last couple billing statements and identify any monthly subscriptions that have outlasted their usefulness.
Save files in the cloud - not on your desktop
When you receive an email attachment or download a text or image file, immediately move the file into a folder in the cloud. This will save space on your computer and keep your desktop and downloads folder clutter-free. For email attachments, Microsoft Power Automate can help you automatically save email attachments to OneDrive. You can also create a filing system using the umbrella folder system outlined above within your OneDrive, Google Drive or another cloud-based platform like DropBox. The key is to make it a habit to immediately move files to their designated location in the cloud so this organization task doesn’t become an overwhelming chore.
By dedicating just a couple hours each month to organizing your digital life, you can make daily tasks easier to complete, save time searching for the right file, and gain more uninterrupted deep-focus time for important tasks.
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