Lorie Marrero author of The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life is here to help us all tackle the digital clutter in our lives. Lorie has shared the following tips and answered my digital organization questions.
10 Simple Tips to Declutter Your Digital Life
It’s that time of year again, and warming weather means blooming messes. But this season, the chaos isn’t limited to the house and garage. Email inboxes are also overflowing, and online folders, files and photos are piling up on computer desktops. Spring cleaning typically means dusting out old corners and straightening up winter clutter – but organization is going digital as more people are spending their time online.
- Declutter Your Desktop: Treat your desktop as you would the top of your actual desk and keep only active files and shortcuts there for convenience. Use your My Documents folders for more lasting storage. Clean off unnecessary shortcuts that clutter the screen.
- Get Your Files in Order: After you get your desktop sparklingly clean, take a look through your folders. Can you consolidate? Are there old files you can remove, or drafts that are no longer relevant? Remember, your time is valuable and storage space is plentiful, so archiving to a folder or external storage space is usually a better use of time than wading through lots of old documents.
- Time for Your Inbox to Drop a Few Pounds: Do you really need those attachments in email? Save your large files to an online storage drive like Windows Live SkyDrive, which offers 25 GB of free storage. Easily upload videos, photos and files, and share them with whomever you’d like – without overloading their inboxes.
- Take time to Back up Important Files: Granted it’s easy to get too busy to back up files, and it’s not something many of us take time to do. But your valuable photos and documents are irreplaceable. By saving them to an external hard drive, you’ll never worry about losing precious memories and information.
- Kick Calendar Chaos: Who is supposed to drive carpool today? If the carpool schedule is on your refrigerator and you’re at work, it can be difficult to coordinate multiple schedules in multiple locations. Free online calendar services such as Windows Live Calendar allow you to easily share multiple calendars with family members and friends from anywhere.
- Optimize Your Computer’s Performance: For greater efficiency and avoiding the heartache of technical problems, remember to update and run important utilities like spyware and virus scans and defragment your hard drive periodically.
- Organize Your Email Contacts: Do you spend more time searching than you spend sending? Consolidate your contacts from multiple accounts and applications in one place with Windows Hotmail. You can also create email groups from your contact list for your book club or close set of friends so you can easily send email without wasting time digging for addresses.
- Email Overload: Practice the “A.R.T.” of e-mail reduction. Process your email inbox daily by immediately deciding whether the messages fall into the category of Action, Reference, or Trash. File your mail in specific folders, like bills, travel, or entertainment, so you can easily find what you’re looking for.
- Be Camera Ready: Make sure your digital camera is always ready for more pictures by uploading your images after each event. Free downloadable applications such as Windows Live Photo Gallery make it easy for you to find, fix and share photos immediately with friends and family.
- Organize Your Favorites: Imagine finding and accessing your favorite web links from anywhere and sharing them easily with your friends! Organize your favorites in Internet Explorer and synchronize them with an online storage drive, and you can access them from any computer and keep them up to date as you find new things to remember and share online.
My Digital Chaos
I have data everywhere! Seriously… it’s rather scary. I do have some storage systems in place, but I have a lot of data and it is currently in a lot of different places. I need to do some major digital tackling.
My first step is the desktop where I’m currently typing this post. Last night I kicked off a 12 hour backup of photos and today I’m trying to comb through and figure out all the folders where I have data that is not yet backed up. I want to make sure I have all my data backed up externally before I start reorganizing it.
My next step, which will take some time, is to try and organize my photo storage systems. I’m going to follow some of Lorie’s suggestions and I’ll report back in a future post.