We’ve always heard a lot about physical clutter and more recently about mental clutter. There’s one additional member of this club…digital clutter. This has become more of an issue especially over the past couple of years with so many people working from home. Digital filing systems were needed where there weren’t fully established ones. Assistants who handled certain tasks were not readily available to step in and help. If you are now looking at a desktop screen that is overrun with document icons and folders, here are 4 tips for how to clear digital clutter.
Just like with paper piles, digital files need to be assessed and a decision made to keep or delete. This can take a bit of time but ultimately will be time well spent. Once the digital clutter is gone, you’ll spend less time looking for documents and will know exactly where to file new documents. Set a deadline for getting this task done and schedule time on your calendar. It could be 15 or 30 minutes at a shot depending on the amount of clutter and your timeline for getting this task done.
Pick a starting point and work through the documents in an orderly manner. For example, if you’re clearing your desktop, start on the top left side and work your way through the first column before moving onto the second one. You may need to open some of the documents if you can’t readily identify the contents from the file name. This is also the time to start using a consistent file naming protocol. Rename documents as needed so that it will be easier to locate them in the future.
Sort and purge
Even though there could potentially be an unlimited amount of storage space, you probably don’t need to keep everything. For example, do you have documents that were started and never finished? As you are sorting through the documents on your desktop or in your documents folder, delete those that are not needed. Create an archive folder for those that need to be kept for reference purposes only. Group those that are related in a temporary folder so they can be easily located while you finish clearing the clutter.
Re-organize your folders
The objective should be a desktop screen with minimal icons and a documents folder with all documents filed. Once the decluttering is done, assess what’s left and be sure to create a streamlined filing system. All documents should have home so that you can easily locate them. Keep the filing system simple and be sure that the folder names are intuitive.
While this task may take some time, it is well worth the effort. I hope that these tips on how to clear digital clutter help jumpstart this project. If you need a customized tip, please reach out to me.