Keep it Simple. Make it Intuitive. Be Consistent. This is what I tell my clients when discussing how to conquer digital clutter with them. Yes, we’re talking about digital clutter. Computers like our desks get cluttered. Instead of the piles of paper that cascade from the desk onto the floor, you may have a desktop screen that is covered with document icons. Or you may have hundreds of unfiled documents under the folders in the documents folder. Unlike physical clutter, it is more out of sight which means out of mind. All the while it is still very much an issue.
Here’s what I suggest that my clients do to minimize their digital clutter:
Keep it Simple: Create a simple filing structure with a limited number of main folders and sub-folders so that it is easy to quickly navigate through the filing system. The main folders should cover general categories while the sub-folders address specific aspects of the category. For example, if you have a financial folder, the sub-folders could be financial statements, budget, etc. This way there aren’t any obstacles to promptly filing documents.
Make it Intuitive: Establish a folder structure that is customized to the way you or other filing system users think and approach their work. Then, if the folder and document names resonate, everyone is much more likely to file documents in a timely manner. Whether it is information that was just downloaded or an attachment to an email you were just reading, the goal is to file in the moment so that you minimize clutter in your downloads folder and inbox.
Be Consistent: Set a document naming protocol (it should also be simple), which includes a concise and specific description, and always follow it. This way you’ll know at a quick glance if a document needs to be kept. In addition, schedule time on a regular basis to clear the clutter from your digital filing system. Delete unwanted documents, file documents that aren’t in folders and archive documents that should be kept but are no longer frequently accessed.
Investing a little time on how to conquer digital clutter will be time well spent. If you need a specific tip to get you started, please reach out to me.