Your business is only as organized as you are… and if your laptop is cluttered, so is your brain. Here are 5 tips to organize your digital space!
How to Organize Your Digital Space
I consider myself an extremely organized person – to an annoying extent, sometimes. If I have something big to accomplish and the physical space around me is dirty, I can’t get anything done. Honestly, it took quarantine and working on my laptop 24/7 to realize that the clutter in my digital space was causing me the SAME problems! So, I took the time to get organized – and it’s made a HUGE difference in my headspace when I’m working.
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Cleaning it up once is a good start – and if your computer looks anything like mine did, the first time will feel unmanageable. Once you’ve done the initial cleaning, try to do upkeep once a week. It’ll make your life easier next time you’re looking for that one, specific document.
Let's Get Organizing!
1. CLEAN your desktop
My strictest rule about organization is that you should have a maximum of 10 folders on your desktop. No loose files floating around in space, people. Keep the MOST USED folders on your desktop and file everything else away into your documents. (I try to keep the folders on my desktop to 6 or fewer).
2. Folders, folders, folders
Now, make folders for EVERYTHING in your documents, downloads, etc. No loose files. (If you really need to save random, unrelated stuff, just make a miscellaneous folder and put them there. It’ll be okay, I promise).
If you have stuff you want to save but don’t need to access it often, I recommend either putting it on a cloud storage service like Google Drive or DropBox or putting it on an external hard drive.
Extra Tip: Make a screenshots folder.
I’m a big screenshot taker – and I always need to access the screenshots that I take ASAP. If you’re the same way, make a folder where all of your screenshots are saved and pin it to your favorites. That way, they all go to a dedicated spot and you can find them quickly.
3. Go through those notes
I’m an Apple user through-and-through, and I LOVE the notes app. It’s where I write down gift ideas, motivational quotes I find, and important notes from important meetings. Microsoft OneNote has the same functionality, I think.
Too often, the important notes I made during important meetings disappear… but I can always find that grocery list I made six months ago.
- Make folders. And then subfolders. And then take the time to go through your notes, delete the random lunch orders and half-finished lists, and categorize the stuff you want to keep.
- Make SURE your notes have titles. If you’re looking for “Notes from Publisher Meeting” and you title your note that way, it’s easily searchable.
4. Stop ignoring your Cloud Storage Service
At this point, my whole computer was organized… except for my Google Drive. I had random assignments from high school floating around in there, and I had somehow managed to eat up 10 GB of storage. After a HUGE cleanout, I’m down to 3 GB!
When you’re cleaning your cloud storage services, be brutal. Don’t keep things you don’t need, and organize the stuff you absolutely need.
- Make folders for everything
I have past examples of work for my portfolio stored in folders labeled by the organization I created them for, a catchall “personal” folder, and a folder of college work I’m not ready to let go of yet.
The hardest part here – do NOT leave documents floating around in the main folder. If there are a few miscellaneous documents, make a miscellaneous folder. Leaving a handful of documents out and about in your Drive is a gateway to leaving all of your documents there again… and that’s not the goal here.
- Remember – your trash is taking up storage, too!
This was my big issue – letting things sit in the trash and never finalizing the deletion process. Go ahead and clear it out. It’ll feel like a fresh start.
5. EMPTY your Inbox
I don’t mean that you need to delete all of your emails. My inbox was becoming my worst nightmare – I work a part-time job for a nonprofit, so I often get emails during the day, read them to make sure they aren’t urgent, and then deal with them in the evening. The problem is, many of the emails get a LOT of replies from other team members throughout the day and some of them are only tangentially relevant to me. The stuff I needed to deal with was getting lost, and I couldn’t find that email I was sure I had.
If you’re a Gmail user like me, open your settings and go make COLOR-CODED LABELS. I have one for my part-time job, one for emails from my alma mater, one for bills, one for tracking packages… the list goes on. If I don’t need to respond to an email, I tag it and move it to that folder. The only emails left in my inbox are the ones I need to deal with.
Bonus tip for Mac Users: Organize your Launchpad
My launchpad is my secret weapon. You can (and should) organize the apps in there! Delete all of those random shortcuts to things you don’t use and categorize the apps that you use into folders. That’s how I manage to keep my desktop clean – everything I use regularly is tucked away in the Launchpad and doesn’t need to clutter my regular space.
Listen – I know things get crazy and sometimes, you save random files everywhere. At the end of each week during the afternoon slump, I make sure to go back through my documents and get everything squared away. That way, Monday morning is a little more manageable.