Valentine’s Day isn’t the only hotly anticipated holiday this month. Wednesday, February 12th is National Clean Out Your Computer Day! A day dedicated to spending a little quality time with your hard drive.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer PC or Mac, everyone knows the headache (and heartache) caused by a slow computer. Clearing away the clutter in your digital workspace can help your computer run faster, and give your productivity a little boost too.
Here are a few tips to start whipping your computer into shape!
Clear your downloads. The best place to start is in your downloads folder. Duplicates and files you don’t need anymore can go straight to the trash. Drag anything you want to keep on to your desktop, for now …
Clear your browser data. Clearing your downloads may have been a bit overwhelming. So, for something easy, open the browser you use the most and select the option to clear your browsing data (usually in the first drop down menu).
The only thing you may want to keep is your passwords, which should have a corresponding box that you can uncheck. Otherwise, take a deep breath and clear that data! If you haven’t done this in a while, you may hear a big sigh of relief from your browser. Holding all that information is hard work!
Organize your desktop. Okay, back to a big undertaking: your desktop. Some say a messy desk is the sign of a genius. Unfortunately, a messy desktop is more likely a sign that you need to see an Apple Genius.
There are many ways to tackle this task, but the easiest way is to start fresh. First, create a folder called “Old Desktop” and drag everything on your desktop into that folder. Second, take a moment to create a new system for saving files, something that is meaningful to you and how you use your computer. Then, create a few high-level folders that correspond to your new system (i.e. Work; Family; Fun; Cool Cat Photos). Now, whenever you save a file use your new digital mantra, and put that file in its place.
But, wait, what about your “Old Desktop”? Well, you will have to go through it. And, similar to clearing out the attic of an old house, it may take some time. So, dedicate ten minutes a day, or an hour a week to sifting through your “Old Desktop”. Anything you want to keep on your computer must fit into your new filing system. Files you want to keep but don’t use very often, can be archived on an external hard drive. Everything else can go straight to the trash bin.
Delete duplicates. Ok, here’s another easy one. Over time you’ve probably collected some duplicate files on your computer. There are many easy ways to locate the duplicates and delete them. Nobody needs three identical versions of last year’s tax return. No sweat, send them packing!
Empty the trash. After all this, your trash bin is probably bursting at the seams. Take one last skim of all the files you’ve decided you don’t need anymore, and click “Empty Trash”. Don’t worry, it’s ok to smile when you hear that cathartic sound of paper crumpling.
Give it a rest. When you’re ready to take a break from your computer, give your computer a break too. Power down your machine and let it rest for a while. Even robots need a little shut eye.
As always, please comment with your questions or suggestions! An important note, if you have a lot of sentimental or important documents on your computer get a large capacity external hard drive and keep an organized archive that won’t clutter your precious desktop.
After you get your computer running like Usain Bolt, you may feel inspired to take a crack at the rest of your office. Before you start shredding every loose piece of paper in sight, take a quick look at my guidelines for records retention. And, if you need some help decluttering your workspace, here are some office organizing services that I offer.