Aside from Marie Kondo and her deep-rooted love for cleaning and organizing, few of us enjoy decluttering, organizing, and throwing away around random collection of useless artifacts we collect over time. And while we usually think of closets, desks, and junk drawers, our computer can harbor just as much if not more clutter.
Most of us rely on our computer for a significant amount of our professional tasks, and that means it’s prone to collecting a fair amount of virtual dust and debris. Unfortunately, not only can this bog down processing time, it can also leave us searching for the tools, resources, and information we need to get the job done.
If your computer is in need of some Kondo-style TLC, then here are a few tips to help you tidy up and get organized.
6 Tips for Tidying Up Your Computer
1. Organize your local files
When you create or download a file, it may be easy to leave it in the default file location, but doing so can cause chaos. One one of the more obvious way to declutter is by creating logically named file folder in which you can store similar files.
For example, you may be able to save older files, not frequently used, by archiving them based on year. Similarly, signed documents or other formal agreements may be signed in a specific location by client or purpose.
There is no “best” approach to this; the only goal is to develop a file folder system that can decrease clutter and improve efficiency. Of course, you may want to avoid getting too complex with your folder organization system, as too many folders will send you down the rabbit hole each time you’re looking for a document.
2. Clean up Your Desktop
Your desktop is the first thing you see in the morning, after lunch, and often at the end of the day. And just like a well made bed can start and end the day on a positive note, the same is true for your desktop.
The clutter may not have an adverse effect when it comes to computational power, but it as the gateway to your files, tools, and resources, a properly maintained desktop can help you access what you need when you need it.
As a general rule, try to avoid storing unnecessary files, folders, or program shortcuts on your desktop. If you’re not using it daily or weekly, you probably don’t need it there.
3. Consider Cloud Storage
Cloud storage has become increasingly popular for both business and personal use, and taking advantage of this growing trend can help save space while you clean up. There are a variety of e-storage options available — Google Drive, OneDrive, and Box, to name a few — many of which are free for use as long as you stay under a specified limit.
Since data is stored online on remote servers, users with valid login credentials can access the information anywhere at anytime, even if they’re not using their designated laptop or desktop. As such, cloud storage also provides more flexibility and scalability.
In addition, because it’s not stored on your physical device, you don’t have to worry about a single point of failure — viruses, natural disasters, or a computer crash won’t put your files in jeopardy.
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4. Invest in an external hard drive
Similar to cloud storage, an external hard drive makes it possible to keep valuable files without storing them directly on your desktop. Unlike cloud storage, however, an external hard drive is a physical device with the sole purpose of storing information. They come in numerous sizes and styles and provide various amounts of storage capacity.
An external hard drive may not offer the same accessibility or scalability provided by cloud storage, but some users prefer this method when it comes to increased security when storing private information — though that’s not to suggest today’s cloud storage platforms are not secure.
Further, even though cloud storage is often free or extremely cheap for the first few GBs, it may become more expensive over time, and leveraging an external hard drive in addition to cloud storage can help you manage your data and your costs.
5. Check your startup activity (stop apps from starting)
You need to log onto our computer and quickly check an email, send out a report, or douse the flames of some workplace fire, and bam – you’re confronted with a seemingly endless parade of opening program. We’ve all been there.
While some of the startup pomp and circumstance is useful, many apps and programs act as unnecessary black holes that drain your computational power and your patience. The answer to this quandary is strikingly simple: change your startup settings.
How you do that depends on the type and version of your operating system (e.g., Windows 10, iOS 9), but it typically is a fairly quick process that can help you get to the day’s pressing issues much quicker.
6. Inventory your programs and apps and delete ones you don’t use
Speaking of programs that can slow your roll, another way you can tidy and potentially speed up your computer is to get rid of any programs you don’t need or aren’t essential to operation.
Many of the programs you’ll stumble across during your inventory will be crucial for operation, but you may be surprised by some that are unfamiliar to you. Today’s internet it rife with “complimentary” clutter that can accompany software, files, etc. that you willingly download.
When it comes to your computer, you may not be able to get rid of everything that doesn’t bring you joy, but a solid cleaning and ongoing maintenance can have a notable impact on your day-to-day life by increasing efficiency and productivity. Do yourself a favor and let go of the clutter so logging in is a little easier on the eyes, the mind, and your most valuable workplace tool.
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