clean out your computer day

The second Monday in February has been designated Clean Out Your Computer Day.

To celebrate this holiday, take a look at your computer’s desktop. If yours looks like most people’s, it’s completely covered with icons. Having a cluttered virtual desktop is as distracting as having a cluttered physical desktop.

Starting Monday, take 5 minutes each day to look at what you’ve been keeping, then start filing.

If you’re afraid you’re going to lose track of current projects, create a folder called Current Projects and load it up with all the loose files. Do the same with Archives, Client Contacts, Manuscripts, Ideas or whatever it is you’ve been collecting.

Your goal is to create a streamlined system on your desktop so you can find what you need quickly, without having to search through lots of extraneous stuff. Just as sifting through physical paper wastes time, clicking on multiple folders to find the right document is just as inefficient.

Give your documents real names, with dates, if necessary. If you must keep earlier versions, name them Chapter1 Revision1, Chapter1 Revision2, etc. or Contacts 2013-9, Contacts 2014-2, etc.

To complicate matters, many people keep multiple copies of the same document in different places. Then they amend the document, don’t remember which file it was in, and make changes to a different one. If you’re afraid you won’t remember where something is, create shortcuts of the file and put the shortcuts in different folders. Every time you click on one, you’ll actually be opening the original document.

For example, I keep the file Donation Sites MoCo in the Binders folder, but I have a Donation Sites MoCo shortcut in Presentations folder. I know that when I update Donation Sites MoCo, the changes will show up across both documents and I don’t have to duplicate my efforts.

Here is a shot of my desktop:Blog illust 2014-02-06

Your desktop doesn’t have to be as Spartan as mine. I feel most comfortable when I can see large categories and drill down to the folder for a specific file. Aim to simplify the search process, not to attain perfection.

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