Declutter Your Digital Life

In my work and here on the blog, I focus primarily on organizing tangible stuff.  However, even though it’s less obvious, it’s just as important to organize your digital life as your physical space.  For insight into the reasons you might want to overhaul your digital storage strategies, I particularly loved Daniel Cooper’s take on the topic: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Your Computer).  The dirty little secret his experience reveals is that while the stuff is different, the issues involved in both digital and physical organizing are pretty much the same!

 Photo courtesy of engadget.com

Photo courtesy of engadget.com

As Cooper discovers when he sets out to tidy his own computer, it’s never really about the stuff.  If organizing really boiled down to a simple game of Stuff Tetris, it wouldn’t be so difficult or overwhelming!  Instead, it’s about what the stuff means, why it means that, and how to extract that meaning in a way that’s productive instead of letting it hold you back.

To organize your digital life, just like in the physical world, setting up systems in advance is just as important as doing the work of organizing after the fact.  What do I mean by that?

For one thing, I don’t organize my email in the traditional sense of filing messages once they come in.  There’s a good reason for this: I’ve been using Gmail since 2005 and the search function is so good I’ve literally never found myself unable to find something I needed.  And anything I want to do with my email is so easily automated on the front end that there would be literally no time saved or functionality gained by trying to file my email in folders after reading it.  So, I’ve set up the rules that make my inbox work effectively (for example: send all email addressed to an old address I never use to one folder and mark it as unread), and carry on!

 A peek at my actual hard drive/iCloud backup

A peek at my actual hard drive/iCloud backup

Still, when it comes to organizing digital storage, I do have a system. To keep it easy, I utilize a common naming convention when I create files and drop them in the appropriate folder the first time I save them.  It’s a virtually automatic process for me, because my folder architecture has been pretty much the same since I started using my 1996 Powerbook my freshman year in high school!

Lately, there’s one more step I’ve added: cloud backup.  I used to back everything up periodically to an external hard drive, but recently transitioned to a dual backup to both Google Drive and iCloud.  Frankly, iCloud is a bit easier to use because I can just save things to it directly from my MacBook, but Google Drive’s ability to upload whole folders at once and auto-replace any duplicates is pretty sweet too!

If your desktop is covered with icons or your browser is stuffed with bookmarks and it’s stressing you out, consider taking the time to organize your digital life.  And if you need support through the process, contact me - I can help!

LMW