Yep, I said it, it's definitely not the most interesting topic on earth, but it has to be done. We live in a digital world. And, just because we've gone paperless and have learned to deal with our paper clutter, that doesn't necessarily mean we're organized. So, what are the steps to getting your electronic clutter under control? Read on!
Step 1: Purge
We couldn't start an organizing process without purging, could we? Seriously, this is important - and time consuming. Sorry, there's no way around it. Why organize file you don't need? Set aside time over a few weeks, if necessary, to go through each of your file folders and remove documents you no longer need or want.
Don't forget that "Downloads" folder! We download a lot of stuff from the internet (often without realizing it) and it usually goes directly into a Downloads folder. Then, the files just sit there, never to be looked at again. You'll probably free up a lot of space on your device by cleaning out the Downloads folder.
Step 1a: Rename
Well, this could be it's own step, it really should be done while you're purging. You will come across documents or files that have file names that make no sense. You don't know what's in them, so you have to open them to figure out if you need it or not. These files need to be renamed to something that makes the contents easily identifiable.
Step 2: Create a file structure
Start out general with big categories. For example, Home, Work, Legal, School, etc. Your categories may be different; these are just examples. Then, thinking about the types of files you have, in each of those categories, create subfolders. Your Home folder, might have folders like Travel or Vacation, Career (for resumes, reference letters and the like), Recipes, Manuals, etc. You may even have subcategories for your subcategories. That's ok. Try not to go too deep into the sub-folders, though, as you'll just clutter up with sub-folders and it will take you extra clicks to get to things.
I usually recommend keeping pictures separate from your regular documents. Images take up quite a bit of space. You may want to consider storing those on external storage, such as an external hard drive. Creating folders for each year, and then subfolders for specific events or months is a good way to organize images.
Step 3: Move files
Once you have your file structure created, then you're on to actually moving files to the appropriate location. Most of your files will fall naturally into the subcategories you've already created. However, I can almost guarantee that you will have a few that don't seem to fit anywhere. Try not to leave any documents hanging out in your main categories. At the very least, they should fit under at least one subcategory. You may have to create one specifically for that document or file. You may have other things that fit with it in the future, so that's not a bad thing.
And, that's it. You're done. 3 steps, but it can be time consuming. Break the task into chunks and take your time doing it. You will conquer your digital clutter in the end!
Need help with getting your electronic files in order? Contact me for a free consultation!
Jennifer Raschig loves to share thoughts on creating restful spaces and presenting your best self every day.