A clean home or a tidy desk can make you feel more productive and balanced. Living clutter-free in the digital sense can have the same effect, and can save you a lot of time on top of it! There is just too much data that we have on our computers – cleaning it up regularly helps you not get lost in the chaos. If you are drowning in emails, photos, and other files, it’s time to face digital hoarding and put an end to digital clutter!
Here are our top four tips for making sure that digital clutter isn’t an obstacle in your life.
1. Free up your desktop
Let’s start with the first thing you see every time you start your computer – your desktop screen. Does it pull your attention to the important things? Or is it a chaotic mess that offers a multitude of distractions and just makes you want to open a folder so you don’t have to stare at it? If it’s the latter, you’re reading the right article.
I like to keep my desktop as clean as possible. Set up a couple of folders that take you to places you go often. You decide which ones – maybe it makes sense to have folders for the different aspects of your freelancing work. Or maybe you want one for each current project. The important thing is to keep the amount of stuff on your desktop to a minimum. Anything above eight to ten icons is too much and will give you a sense of chaos every time you start your computer.
2. Clean up your inbox
Secondly, let’s go to your email client. Whether you use something like Outlook or Thunderbird or an online client, it is a prime spot for gathering up digital clutter. The easiest first step you can take to reduce it is to take go through all the newsletters you get weekly. How many of them do you read? How many of them are you excited about because they give you valuable or interesting information? Probably not that many. Save yourself valuable time and just delete all the rest.
If you really want to get an organized inbox, you’ll need a system. Something that works for me is simply answering any mail I can on the day I get it. If I can’t answer it on that day, I move it directly into a “work in progress” folder. And if it neither requires an answer nor has anything important I want to save in one of my other folders, it goes to the trashcan – straight away.
If you hold a Gmail account, we recently shared some great tips to optimize your Gmail and save precious time as a freelancer!
3. Get rid of useless files with a deep clean
The deeper you go into the parts of your computer that you don’t see every day, the more digital clutter you will encounter. You can start easily enough by just going through your main folders and deleting files you don’t need anymore. This can be a very time-consuming task, so doing it manually is almost never a good idea, unless you’re extremely minimalistic about what you keep on your computer.
So how do you do it as the average person with a good amount of GB on your machine (a lot of it probably being digital clutter?) One of the most effective ways will be to run something like CCleaner, one of the most popular decluttering software out there. It helps you find duplicate files, can run a clean of cookies and other temporary files and a bunch of other stuff. This has the twofold advantage of not only decluttering your PC visually, but also optimizing its performance by getting rid of unnecessary data.
You can download CCleaner right here for free!
4. Utilize folders and file names to their fullest potential
And finally, when your computer is cleaner and crisper than the day when you purchased it, don’t forget to set up a system to keep it that way. While cleaning up your digital clutter can be a great feeling in and of itself, just sticking to your old ways and having to clean it again and again will cost you a lot of time.
To make sure you can always find what you need (and what you need to delete) immediately, name your files accordingly. For example, when I work on a longer text over the span of weeks, I will often put the date and time I last saved the file in front of the name. This way, I have all older versions easily available and immediately know which one is the current.
Additionally, aim for creating a folder system rather than just a multitude of unrelated folders. Maybe every client gets a folder, maybe every month does – it’s up to you. But make sure you immediately know where to search for that file you need.
How do you deal with digital clutter? Tell us in the comments below this article!