Is your computer chock-full of digital clutter? Is your hard drive overflowing with old files? Are your folders a random jumble of documents? Is your email inbox your main (if not only) reliable storage system?
Is your VIRTUAL desktop a LITERAL mess?
It happens. To the best of us. You start off with good intentions. THIS time I promise to keep my hard drive neat and tidy, THIS time to promise to delete old files, THIS time I promise to stick with a consistent naming convention. THIS time I promise to save documents to a folder and not the desktop.
Only THIS time is like all the other times. After the initial excitement of untarnished hardware wears off, you forget all your promises and go back to your old ways, your messy ways. It isn’t until you notice that your super speedy new machine is slowing down that you remember the reason you made those promises: clutter kills computers!
How to Become a Digital Neat Freak
Determine Your Storage Needs — Start by assessing your usage habits. Are you downloading and/or saving a lot of large files? Do you need extra capacity for storing photos and videos? Are you a digital hoarder who tends to keep things “just in case”?
Set Up a Storage System — Buy an external hard drive or cloud storage system that allows you to offload large files that will only end up taking up all your storage capacity. Remember, it only works if you actually move the files over, instead of saving them to your hard drive.
Beware of Cloud Storage — Don’t assume cloud storage solutions, like DropBox, will solve your storage problems. Unless you tell them not to, they automatically sync files back to your hard drive, which will quickly put you back at square one.
Be Consistent With Conventions — Always name files in the same way. If sorting them is important, start with the date (numeric year-month) and then include a descriptive file name. If being able to search for them matters, use key words, like client or project name.
Delete, Delete, Delete — Get in the habit of deleting everything you no longer need: old or duplicate files, email newsletters and random correspondence, bad photos or video outtakes, and applications you no longer use.
Download Attachments With Care — Never choose the “Download All” option as you end up downloading all the extra clutter that comes with the email, like those photo icons people use in their email signatures. Download what you need, file it and delete (unless you need to save it for future reference).
Check Your Capacity — Every now and then, take a look at your remaining hard drive space (you will need to do it more often if you download or create a lot of large files). When you hit the 75% full mark, it’s time to start clearing out the clutter!