When we think about clutter, we often think of the physical things that take up space in our physical world. Clearing the clutter around you aids in clarity and productivity but it isn’t limited to that stack of papers on your desk. Organizing your digital files is just as important for your clarity and productivity.
Digital clutter can be dangerous, and I am not talking productivity here. Do you know who has access to that password file you shared with your VA? You know, the one you haven’t worked with in months? Can you quickly find your contract with your client, if they challenge the way you are working together?
In Clear the clutter for clarity and productivity, we tackled our physical space. Now, it’s time to focus on organizing our digital files.
Clean Your Workspace
Again, I’m not talking about the piles of paper or old coffee cups but go ahead and get rid of that cup quick – I’ll wait!
The quickest and easiest of the suggestions for organizing your digital files is to clear off your desktop. It’s easy just to drag or save files to your desktop and create shortcuts for just about every program you use when you’re “too busy to stop.” But please resist the urge, no matter how “well” it works for you.
For one thing, they are hard to organize files on your desktop. More importantly, if your computer ever experiences a fatal crash, all the files on your desktop will be gone.
Save your files to a cloud-based software like Dropbox. Saving all my files in Dropbox allows me to access files on the go – and as a mom of two teens, I am always on the go! Another important reason that I don’t save files to my computer is that I don’t need anything slowing me or my computer down.
One thing to note, especially for those of us using Dropbox for client work, is that Dropbox does take up space on your hard drive. When Dropbox syncs your files to your computer, it saves them on your hard drive. Dropbox files can really eat up your RAM and slow down your computer if you have a lot of files (especially photo, audio, and video files).
Use selective sync to choose which files you need to sync to your computer. Since my laptop doesn’t have the same capacity that my desktop does, I only sync files to my laptop that I use regularly. Everything else can be accessed through the Dropbox website. This article from Dropbox will show you how to do that!
Other great options for saving files to the cloud include Microsoft OneDrive, AmazonS3, and Google Drive. Dropbox remains my main storage space however I use AmazonS3 for photo files and content delivered through my website. I also use Google Drive for writing and my business operations manual.
Although I am an Amazon Prime member, I have not explored their photo storage option that is included with membership, simply because my photo files are already organized and stored in Dropbox. If I had to do it all over, I would go that route and am considering making the switch soon.
Your Digital File Structure
Organizing digital files can be overwhelming, and there is no perfect structure for this. Like everything else, the best system is the one that makes sense to you. What I have found is that the fewer main folders you have, the better. You can always add subfolders to each.
For my business, I have my business folder set up in the same way my Operations Manual is created for my business. I also include a training folder for any personal templates and training and an archive folder.
Organizing your digital files takes time. When you begin the process, create the main folders you intend to have, then move files into their appropriate folders. For a quick clean up, I create a “To Sort” Folder and an Archive Folder. I then schedule in time to work through these folders.
As I sort my files in Dropbox, I drag them into the appropriate folders. When the “To Sort” folder is empty, I delete it by dragging it to the trash. If you are concerned with space, you can move your archive folder to an external space.
The first step to maintaining any system is to commit to your system. You don’t want to waste all the time you spent getting organized. Commit to your system, at least for a period of time before you change things. It will take time to get used to. You can update and tweak it after you give it time to become a habit.
Update where files are downloaded to on your computer. By default, they may be going to a downloads folder. If you prefer to send photos to another location, choose that in your settings on your computer.
Be deliberate when naming files so that you can easily search for them later. It’s a great idea to create a naming structure that works for you. One example is to use your product name for each file. For example, our Fabulously Balanced Life Academy content is named with the module or topic such as Clear The Clutter – Workbook, Clear The Clutter – Checklist, etc.
Finally, don’t forget weekly cleaning. Clean out your download file and your trash weekly to keep everything running smooth!