You know that feeling when you really need to find a computer file quickly? Maybe it’s your 2018 tax return, maybe it’s a photo of your mom, but whatever it is, you search and you search, and you just can’t find it. Well, friends, Horderly hates to be the bearer of bad news, but what you’ve got sounds like textbook Disorganized Computer Syndrome. Here’s how to organize your digital life once and for all, and stop wasting your precious time hunting for files.

Say Goodbye to Unused Applications

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Start with one of the easiest tasks: look through all the programs you have on your computer. There are probably programs on your computer that you downloaded a long time ago – and had no idea it was even still on your computer. If you haven’t used a program in some time, toss it in the trash. In most cases, you can redownload it later if you need it again.

Delete Duplicates 

Many times we have downloaded duplicate files without even knowing, and these unnecessary twins are taking up valuable storage space! Get rid of duplicates by using a free app like Duplicate Detective or Duplicate File Finder Remover (Mac).

Clear Out Downloads & Trash Folders 

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Removing unnecessary files from your Downloads folder and Trash folder not only declutters your computer, but it can also increase computer speed and efficiency. So come on, you definitely don’t need that concert ticket pdf from 2014, get to deleting those downloads! Make a point to empty these folders at least once a week, set a reminder so you don’t forget.  

Create A Foolproof Storage System

The only way to ensure your computer stays organized is if you create an organizational system that is tailored to your personal needs. Consider your lifestyle and computer use, and what would make it easier for you to find files on your computer. 

Then, create folders on your desktop designated to main categories or people. For example, create a “Me” folder for your own files, a “Friends” or “Family” folder, and a “Work” folder for business or professional documents.

Don’t Be Afraid of Depth

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Inside your main folders, create subfolders. It can be confusing and hard to sort through so many files at a time, so the more sub-folders and categories you can create, the easier it will be to find a file quickly. 

Create subfolders either by date, or purpose of the file. For example, place pictures in your main “Me” folder – but then create subfolders by the date they were taken, or event. 

PDFs would likely be sorted into subfolders based on purpose, i.e. “Resumes”, “Instruction Manuals”, “Recipes” etc. 

Don’t be afraid of creating folders within folders as long as this system makes sense to you and you can maintain it. The key here is to only create the subfolders that you need so that they’re easy to find. If less is more for you, that’s okay!

Name Files Strategically 

If the file is labeled “IMG1234” it definitely won’t be easy to find when you’re on a time crunch. As you are reorganizing your files, be sure to rename them strategically in a way that makes it easy for you to find them! File names should be short, and they should be named consistently. If you have multiple versions of a similar file (i.e. resumés) include a date, and number.

A Clean Desktop for A Calm Mind

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Avoid storing files on your computer desktop, and dedicate your desktop to main folders only. Too many files on your desktop screen can be extremely overwhelming and create mental clutter. Remember, a tidy desktop means a tidy mind. 

Digitally clean-up all files and store them in subfolders within your main folders. 

Choose a background image for your desktop that makes you feel calm and happy to look at. If an image makes you happy, it will likely increase your productivity as well.

For more information on all things Horderly – including lots of great tips, tricks and other #HorderlyHabits – check out our blog or reach out for more information!

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