By: Emily Adair
Most of your life is managed or documented digitally. When those files begin stacking up, chaos ensues. There are, however, several easy methods for de-cluttering your digital life.
Try to limit your favorites and bookmarks to just a handful. Leave the essentials on your favorites/bookmarks bar and keep track of the rest with an RSS feed.
An RSS feed allows you to keep track of all your favorite sites and blogs in one central newsfeed. Rather than searching through all your favorites for SheNOW, you can add it to your RSS newsfeed and receive live content from all your sites at once.
Simply start using an RSS tool like Feedly, add the sites you want to keep track of and delete those old bookmarks.
As you probably know, it’s extremely risky to use the same passwords for every account you set up. It can also be very difficult to remember 600 different passwords.
Try creating a password for each type of account. For instance, use something like G1rlp0wer for your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Use something different for your blog login and for any email accounts associated with that blog. Come up with something more complicated for any work-related accounts.
Most importantly, grab a piece of paper and a pen. Write down all your passwords on one sheet and keep it with your other secure documents, like your birth certificate and bank statements. This way, if anything should happen to your computer, your passwords aren’t all sitting on an easy-to-access file on your desktop.
If your inbox is cluttered with unnecessary spam or notifications, the solution is simple. Unsubscribe. Anything that is outright spam, mark it as such. The email service is generally able to prevent similar mail from making its way into your inbox in the future. Just be sure to check your spam folder for non-spam messages from time to time.
What’s more, you may still be getting notifications from a service you may no longer use. If you are ‘so over’ Facebook, but still get notifications sent to your email, delete your account. There’s no need for those messages to bury a more important note.
For those emails from an account you still actively use, like LinkedIn, change your settings so you don’t receive email updates. Unsubscribe from newsletters that you don’t really need.
For the remainder of your inbox, add categories or folders to help label important emails. Just be careful not to over-do it. If it takes just as long sifting through folders as it would sifting through an unlabeled inbox, you have too many.
These days, most computers automatically set up document, photo, music and video libraries. Within those libraries, you should create folders to keep your files separate.
Files can be kept organized by creating one folder for work and others for the other aspects of your digital life. Within your work folder, you may benefit from having a folder for every month. All the documents you create or obtain that month can be stored there so you can better locate it later.
Also in your work folder, create a “Continuing items” folder, for documents that are important throughout your time at that job.
Similarly, have a folder for each album you create in your photo library and each genre in your music and video files.
Be sure all files—whether word document, photo or audio clip—are clearly named. You shouldn’t have to open the document to know what it is. Not all symbols are accepted when naming a file, but one that does is a dash. Use dashes to separate the name of the file from the date or the purpose.
Rather than naming a file, “Aquinas,” try calling it, “Commencement speech—Aquinas High School on 5-18-2015.”
This method will also help you in searching for a file. If the only thing you can remember about the file is when you will need it, you can still use that to track down your document.
It is crucial to keep a backup of your computer files. If your laptop crashes, you could lose all your data if you don’t have some kind of backup.
Keeping immediate files on a portable flash drive is a great way to make sure you always have what you need, when you need it.
Similarly, Dropbox and Google Docs are excellent storage tools that also allow file sharing.
For mass storage, consider getting an external hard drive. Transfer new files to the hard drive as often as once a week. You can keep the hard drive in a safe place at home.
Maintaining your digital files may seem overwhelming, but once you get used to a clutter-free life, it’ll actually be hard to let the chaos back in.
Image courtesy of watcharakun/freedigitalphotos.net