We’ve all been there. Searching for a picture or a file that “you know” you saw on your computer. Trying to remember what you named it, who sent it to you, or the general time frame that it was saved only to give up in exhausted frustration when we can’t find it.
Are you constantly deleting files so you can save newer ones? Does it take your computer minutes instead of seconds to load programs? Even if you can navigate through your unruly desktop, are you sure your computer is running efficiently? With unnecessary files in the forsaken corners of your hard drive, the answer if that it’s probably not. These small obstacles add up each day and can eat into your work time or, at the very least, slow you down when you have to search for resources you placed on your desktop for “convenience”. In honor of National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day, celebrated on the third Monday each October, here are six tips to help you clear the clutter and to hopefully increase productivity through organization. 1. Purge. The bad news is that you will have to open all 244 files on your desktop. The good news is that even though this will be a very time consuming walk down memory lane, you’ll only need to complete this step once. Your objective for this step is to physically view all of the items that take up real estate and determine whether they are worth keeping. 2. Create a folder system. Your system doesn’t have to be elaborate or detailed, it just has to work for you! Maybe you don’t like to click more than three times to get to documents - that’s fine. Start with general categories (for example, family, hobbies, work, etc.) and get more specific with sub-folders as you become more comfortable. 3. Create a naming system that’s easy to remember. Keep it simple on this step. Consider using prefixes so that you can find you files quickly. For example, if you run company’s blog and are writing a series about the effects of commuting on employees, each story would have an identifier before the headline so that you can reference articles without losing time while searching. You could search Commuting and Employees, knowing that these words are listed in the final stories of the respective blogs. 4. Make it personal! Customize your desktop so that it’s less tempting for clutter to creep back in. If you had a nice family photo, picture of your dog (or any other animal) or a photo of a spectacular sunset from your last vacation you would be less likely to cover that up with the budget report you worked on three years ago. 5. Archive/store. Now that you have a wonderful folder system, put a shelf life on how long you plan to keep files. For example, if you helped organize the office holiday party in 2017 it’s very likely that you won’t need to access any information from that file -unless you’ve been nominated again this year! Consider utilizing a cloud-based storage system or, if you’re not hanging out in the cloud yet, feel free to use SD cards or external hard drives. 6. Evaluate. Ideally, a person would only need to celebrate National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day once because the steps above would serve as an organizational strategy, not just a quick fix one day a year. With that said, we know that life happens and things change. Take a quick assessment of your desktop once every season and try to make sure your filing system is working for you. Spending a little time organizing your desktop can save you an extraordinary amount of time and energy. Now that you have some tools to help you get started, clear off your desktop today Tidy Team!