By: Jason Eisenberg Community Program Manager for Office Depot
When I first read a study that people who are disorganized tend to be both more intelligent and creative, I had a retort for anyone who said how cluttered my computer desktop was. This, of course, was a result of having too much stuff living in my hard drive and overflowing onto my desktop. Anywhere from photos taken when I was a sports journalist 10 years ago to my current presentations, you could find it on my computer – well sort of (I often would have to hit ‘search’). I had a means of justifying my penchant for disorganization but at the end of the day, my productivity dipped and my stress levels increased as I took on more projects and responsibilities.
Whether you believe clutter is a result of a creative mind or not, having a computer with unnecessary files will slow you down in one way or another – especially one associated with your business. Even if you can navigate through your disheveled desktop, are you sure your computer is running as efficiently as it can? With tons of unnecessary files in the dusty corners of your hard drive, probably not. That’s why we celebrate National Clean Up Your Computer Month in January and revisit National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day on the third Monday of every October. It's a national effort to help people ‘clean the clutter’ and to hopefully increase productivity through organization.
When it comes to running your small business, time is considered one of your more precious resources ranked right up there with financial capital. Everyone gets 24 hours in a day – or 1,440 minutes. Spending those minutes for your business/work is inevitable, but how you’re spending them is up to you. Does your computer take too long to load programs? Are you constantly performing the juggling act I mastered in college – deleting files so you can save newer ones? From a user standpoint, how long does it take you to find a file on your desktop until you give up and click ‘search’? These small obstacles add up every day and can eat up your work time or at the very least, interrupt your current task when fumbling for resources you placed on your desktop for “convenience”. Even the most disciplined workers will be subjected to this type of computer interruption.
Here are 5 ways to help organize your computer for National Clean Your Computer Month and Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day, so you hopefully only need to celebrate each holiday once.
Customize Your Desktop So YOU Don’t Mess with It
This is more of an outside-the-box approach but for you creatives out there, it just might work.
As Typing.com suggests, sometimes all someone needs to keep their desktop from getting cluttered is putting a picture where they don’t want it to get obstructed. Consider replacing the generic background with something you love to look at such as family, your dog, a vacation spot, a beautiful picture of yourself… Chances are if you really love the photo, you won’t want random icons hindering its effect.
Create a Folder System for the Future
It might seem obvious but having a folder system in place can help prevent your desktop from turning into a wall of icons. Many people put their files on their desktop because that means it’s only one click away. Yes, having folders adds more clicks to get to your destination, but at least this way you can know exactly where every file belongs. Consider starting with broad categories like work, hobbies, family, etc. Then you can get more specific with subfolders like specific projects, family vacation photos, unfinished novels you wrote, etc.
Another tip is to have a ‘holding folder’ – a place where all of your temporary files go before you remove or find a folder home for them. Half of my desktop used to be covered in variations of the same video with small tweaks – I was too scared to delete my drafts so I kept it on desktop before I did away with them. It’s very easy to take a handful of preliminary videos and put them in a folder called ‘drafts’ and it also helps take away risk of error. For example, I am more likely to publish the wrong video if they all exist in the same place but if I know my unfinished products are in the ‘drafts’ folder, I automatically know not to publish anything from there.
Have a Label/Naming System
I like to think of this as my backup when I can’t find things on my computer. Since I have a naming system in place, I can always search for a specific prefix to get me to my files quickly. When I was a sports journalist, each story would have an identifier before the headline (and a date because I’m tedious) so I can reference a previous article without losing any time while searching. If I was writing about a college’s Athlete of the Year and she was captain of both the swim and track team, I could search TRK Finals and SWM Finals, knowing that her accolades are listed in the final stories of the respective sports seasons.
There are many storage solutions to choose from today but if we’re just talking computer clutter, I’d recommend getting yourself your own personal cloud storage unit or utilizing a cloud service. If you’re using your cloud for your small business, try to make sure everyone with access is categorizing and storing files the same way. Otherwise, you might have even more clutter to rearrange next year!
Go Back and Assess Every Month or Two
The goal is to celebrate National Clean Your Desktop Day once because this should be optimized as an organizational strategy, not a quick fix one day a year. Businesses grow, so try to make sure your filing system grows with it.
Maybe you’re fine with the way your desktop looks and your computer is running well enough, that’s cool. But if that laptop or computer is giving you any kind of sign that it’s running slower than it should, take advantage of Office Depot’s FREE Computer Diagnostic (exp. 12/29/18). Who knows – maybe all you need to do is hit ‘empty recycle bin’.
About the Author Jason Eisenberg is the Community Program Manager for Office Depot, specializing in small business and entrepreneurship. Based out of one of the most exciting cities for startups – Austin, TX – Jason is plugged into the business community, often connecting with thought leaders, entrepreneurs and strategists to help identify and find solutions to common pain points all business owners share.
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All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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