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Digital Spring Cleaning: Decluttering Your Computer

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In Spring Cleaning mode? Don’t forget about your computer and other digital devices! Take the time now to clean up and organize your computer. A clutter-free, organized digital workspace can be just as important to your productivity and well-being as your physical workspace.

Where to start

  • Start with cleaning up your Desktop. The Desktop can become a catchall for all those miscellaneous files; the dining room table of your computer that collects odds and ends files, copies of photo files, downloads, and digital clutter.
  • Other common offending places are the My Documents and My Pictures folders. Purge what you don’t need and move everything else to their proper location. Use some kind of Sticky Notes or PostIts program? Sort through those too.
  • You can often apply the age-old clothing rule, “if you haven’t worn it in 2 years, toss it” to your digital space too. Comb through programs, Apps, font files, and so on and get rid of what you no longer use.
  • Consider downloading a disk utility such as CleanMyMac, CleanMyPC, Disk Inventory, or Disk Space Fan to clean up system files and analyze space usage.

Organize your pictures

  • Clean up photo files and organize them according to your folder system (and if you don’t have one, create one!). Keep originals and delete duplicates that may be cropped versions or resized versions that you don’t need. Consider tagging your photos, a feature found in many programs, to easily search them later.
  • Now is a great time to take all those great photos you forgot about and get them printed for display or share them with family.

Organize your music

    • Go through your music and reorganize what’s out of place. Rename those untitled files like “Track06.mp3″. Fill in missing album artwork. Purge old music, transfer to an external hard drive, or burn to an archival CD.

Your space on the web

      • Fire up your browser and clean out those bookmarks. Delete everything you don’t want and organize the rest into folders. Clear your browser’s cache, temporary internet files, and the downloads folder.
      • Don’t forget your e-mail inboxes! Depending on how much e-mail you’ve accumulated, this may take a while to sort through. Sort by unread e-mails and start there. Gmail users can search “is:unread” and then delete unread e-mails in batches. Unsubscribe from all those mailing lists you don’t know how you got on. Better yet, setup multiple accounts: a personal  account, one dedicated to banking and finances, and a “throwaway” address to use for signing up for services, social media, and online purchases.

Put it on the Cloud

      • Consider integrating your digital life with the Cloud. Move to-do lists and other resources online where other family members can access them. There are a wide variety of online management tools and programs that sync across devices depending on your family’s needs, such as: Remember The Milk, Evernote, Cozi, Wunderlist, and IQTELL.

Once you’re finished…

      • Empty that recycle bin and watch your free space increase! If you’ve got a backup system in place (and you should!), take the opportunity now to backup your newly organized files.
      • Use a screen cleaner and lens cloth to wipe down your displays, clean your keyboard, and give your computer and devices an overall cleaning.
      • Spring Cleaning doesn’t have to be just about cleaning and organizing. For your effort, give your computer and devices a little facelift with a fresh new wallpaper, new folder icons, or download some new music.

As with all cleaning and organizing, you have to build and maintain good habits or else the digital clutter will come right back.

Want to get even more organized? Check out our article 7 Great Cleaning and Organizing Apps.

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Laura is a wife and a new mom living on the East Coast. She and her husband welcomed their first child in September 2013. She has a passion for photography and an incurable case of Wanderlust. In her spare time she enjoys blogging about photography, travel, married life, and motherhood at The Whimsical Photographer.

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