I, Shannon, am a complete and total digital hoarder. I squirrel away notes, pictures, old art, music, video, everything. If I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook, I save it, and then odds are I’ll forget I saved it and save it again three days later. I’ve been this way since I got my hands on my very own computer, and now my poor little Macbook is cluttered with files all over its interface, and there are folders that turn into rabbit holes in which files may venture and never return. I know I’m not the only one like this; odds are you’re like me too, and we suffer together.
Until now! I decree it is time to vanquish the beast of clutter and gain control of our technological workspaces again. Gone are the days of finding 57 pictures of dog memes in the midst of struggling to find where in the world you saved your photos of your brother’s high school graduation (based on a true story). It’s time for some serious organization, and this step-by-step guide will help you conquer the mess-monster and bring peace to the digital lands.
Let the quest begin.
Your Photos and Videos.
Probably my biggest problem area. What I did to fix this up was I sorted every photo/video into two categories: personal and professional. “Personal” is for, well, my personal life, and “professional” is for my art, photography, and any photos that pertain to this blog; I created folders for each topic. Then within those folders I sorted everything by year, giving each year its own folder. Then within each year folder, I created folders for significant events with dates in front, e.g. “6/17/17 – College Graduation,” “5/25/16-5/30/16: Trip to California,” “4/24/15 – Day Trip to the River,” so on and so forth. For random photos, I created a “miscellaneous” folder, then gave general categories to them like “friends,” “family,” “dumb selfies,” et cetera. Make sense? Here’s a picture example of that system:
If you want to keep your photos and videos separate, just do one big folder for photos and one for videos, then within each of those do the years and then the events and dates and whatnot.
For all my word docs, excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and the like. Like photos/videos I sorted everything by year as well as the status I was in school (e.g. 2016 – Junior/Senior Year). Then I sorted the files by topic, in my case it was by class as well as by personal pieces. In each of those years I also included a folder called “Best Of.” This is for what I consider to be the greatest pieces of my writing. My career path involves a lot of paper writing, so the folders are meant for easy access to those files. Don’t include that though if it won’t be useful to you! You’re trying to organize here, not create something more complicated than you need it to be.
I consider notes to be separate from documents; these are all the things you jot down when you’re in a class or at a seminar, or when you have awesome ideas you need to get out of your brain. For all of this, I use OneNote. The separate notebooks feature helps me get all scraps of knowledge big and small into one streamlined system. For classes, for example, I have a notebook for all my notes I took for my major, and two notebooks for each of my minors. Then each section of that notebook is a class within that major. Each page in that section is dedicated to a class.
I also keep a notebook for miscellaneous classes in subjects that don’t warrant their own notebooks (e.g. my gen eds). Outside of classes I also have a notebook for lists (because I love making lists for fun… no judgies), and a notebook for managing this blog. Whatever you find you have lots of random little notes on, OneNote is a great program for storing it all and being able to access it when you want without having to think too hard about where it is.
This is pretty straightforward I think. Anything you aren’t using, uninstall it. Make sure you fully uninstall it as well, as opposed to just deleting its app and leaving behind a bunch of residual files.
On the topic of residual files, get rid of them! Any random downloads, leftover folders and things from old, unused programs, chuck all of it. Chances are you won’t be using any of it again. For Mac users, if you’re looking for a program to do this for you, Clean My Mac is a good one, but you have to pay for it. I have yet to find a good one for free! (If anyone knows of one please mention it in the comments.)
What are your favorite ways to digitally declutter? Let me know in the comments section below!
May you defeat all your productivity-killing baddies,