When was the last time you tidied up your desktop?
I’m not talking about the piece of furniture that you call your “desk”, but the desktop on your computer. If you have never done so, or if it’s been so long that you really can’t remember, then it’s definitely time to take care of this organizational task.
Cleaning up your computer doesn’t have to be a scary proposition although I realize it can seem daunting, especially if it’s been a while since the last time you did it. However, by keeping your PC organized you’ll be able to retrieve files faster instead of hunting endlessly for misplaced documents or spending minutes or hours on end scanning and searching through your computer.
Think of your computer desktop as your physical desk.
Let’s start with the basics of your Windows desktop. If your screen is full of file folders, files and shortcuts, getting rid of this clutter is a good place to start. Reference tools, items for immediate response and files that you use on a frequent basis can stay. However old documents, installers, files and programs can either be filed elsewhere or simply be deleted. Think of your computer desktop just as you would your physical desk. Most people don’t want to keep piles of paper all over their desk, so why would you want to keep piles all over your computer desktop?
Part of the desk top clean up involves emptying your recycle bin on a regular basis. Doing so will free up more space on your hard drive which space you can then use for storing files and programs that you actually need.
Determine which virtual files are important.
Once you’ve gone through the desktop, the next step is to review your virtual files to identify which files are important for you to save. Typically financial and tax documents are important to keep for at least 7 years and anything older can be filed away in an archived folder, clearly labelled and marked by year or month. Think of your virtual filing system just like you would your paper filing system and file and label your virtual filing cabinet and folders within the same as your paper filing cabinet.
As you review your files ask yourself a few questions: Do I still need to keep these around? For what purpose? How easy is it for me to get my hands on this information if I need it again? Do I use this for reference? Should this be moved into a reference folder? When was the last time I referred to this document? These questions should give you a good indication of whether or not they can be deleted.
Back up your documents in at least two different places.
Remember also to back up your computer files, especially documents that are critical or important. Most people now have an external hard drive or an on-line source of storage in the event your computer crashes. It’s a good idea to actually back up your documents in at least two places. I personally back up on an external drive and also on a secure on-line backup source.
These few tips will help you to begin to clear up the clutter on your computer in small manageable steps. You’ll be pleased with the results when you see how much more efficient, organized and even faster your computer will operate.