This past weekend my finace and I spent a bunch of time decluttering — but not in the traditional sense. While paper and stuff can definitely clutter up a home, have you thought about the clutter you probably never see?
Don’t get me wrong, I have lots (and lots and lots) of work to do cutting down on all the “stuff” we have, but computer clutter can be just as annoying and productivity-draining. It can be a little trickier to combat, though, so here are some tips that I have found extremely helpful in cutting down on my digital clutter.
1. “Would I keep this if it were paper?”
This is the first thing I ask myself when sorting through old files on my computer. It helps me prioritize if I really need something, or if I’m just keeping it because it doesn’t really take up space.
Do you really need a screenshot of an order confirmation from 2 years ago? Or five nearly identical photos? What about old or outdated resumes? The answer to all of these is “probably not.” So why not save yourself the room on your computer and delete them?
2. Get an external hard drive
I’m not advocating to delete all of your old files and photos — some are important and have good memories! But finding a place outside of your computer to store them will ensure your machine runs faster and as it should.
I recommend an external hard drive that can hold at least one terabyte of data. My personal hard drive is very similar to this one. It’s lasted me several years already and isn’t close to being filled up.
3. Set aside a good chunk of time
Especially if this will be your first time decluttering your computer, set aside at least two to three hours. It seems like overkill, but I promise there is more junk to sort through than you think.
To make it less painful, play some music or a movie in and background and pour yourself your favorite drink (alcohol not necessarily required!). Then, just get at it. Remind yourself that saving this task for later means it will just grow into something even more time consuming.
4. Folders, folders, folders
I’m a big fan of using filing folders and a filing cabinet for important paper documents. Really, digital documents should be no different. Start with a handful of very general folders, like Documents and Photos, and then create more detailed sub-folders within each. How specific you get with sub-folders is up to you: it could be more general, like “Spring 2010” or much more specific, such as “Spring Break Vacation 2010.”
I will say, creating very specific sub-folders means things will be much easier to find at a later date.
5. You’re never done
How ominous does that sound? But really. Just like cleaning your house isn’t a “one and done” type of deal, decluttering a computer is an ongoing process. To avoid spending half a day once a year weeding through pointless or dated files, take a few minutes every week (or even every month) to clear off your desktop and transfer files to your external hard drive.
I promise, you’ll thank yourself later!
What are your best tips for keeping your computer “uncluttered”?