Today morning I intended to continue writing an article that I had worked halfway through a couple of days before.
I spend a half-hour looking for that one piece of document in a very much cluttered and disorganized folder on my laptop.
From the download file, the documents, recently save files. Nope, Nada.
Did I find it? No
Did I waste my time being an unproductive potato? Absolutely.
I need help. I need to declutter and organize my digital files. It is frustrating.
Especially when you have set your mind to do something (I wake up at 5 am to write the article) then it leads to nothing.
You see, for me it is a very stressful situation, as I have set my mind on certain topics, spend a few hours writing the article, and couldn’t locate it at all.
I must declutter my laptop or digital items. I set the intention a few months back, but I never do anything about it. Now, it looks like a giant mess.
I have folders labeled Pls sort, sort later, screenshots, and a bunch of other documents that I no longer need.
The thing with digital clutter is it is very tricky as we cannot physically declutter or clean it.
I thought that it is not that bad as long as it doesn’t reach the maximum capacity of the storage.
Please don’t judge me but I don’t even know how to use the MacBook color-coded filing system.
I know. I know. I should hang my head in shame.
Problem with digital clutters:
- it gives the same sense of overwhelm as it is with the physical clutter. I kid you not, I seriously have mild palpitations when I realized how bad my file storage looks right now. It perpetuates me overthink the other task that I needed to be completed. Not cool.
- As the file is everywhere, we will spend a minimum of around 15 minutes, locating the files. Couple with frustration, it will affect our mental energy and productivity
- Time management went down the drain. A few simple tasks might lead to hours of completion
This madness must stop! I want to Marie-Kondo’ed my digital belongings. Let’s start with the files
- Multiple files and documents are being downloaded every single day. Some documents were downloaded twice or thrice (well you know, just to ensure the important file is there).
- The files created, are not utilized. Either there is no attempt to put the documents there, or the file names is not match or are appropriate to the file downloaded.
- When in rush, or during a big project session, multiple files and documents will just be kept on the desktop for easy access. But the piles are just left unattended, and they start growing rapidly like some sort of cancerous cell.
All these issues being left brewed in my laptop storage for a good couple of months and even finders lose hope in finding my documents.
1. Create a folder and rename the files
The decluttering expert, Marie Kondo claims that our things tend to get decluttered as they don’t have a proper home for their storage.
Create an appropriate name for the folder, especially for the recurring type of documents.
Another important element is to be mindful when handling the documents.
Most of the time I will click download without even re-naming the files. So most of my download files name as download (1), download (2)…That is how I begin this giant pile of mess.
We know best how our brain works.
Create the system in a way how we approach or look for them when we name the file. Each one of us has a certain approach when we want to search for the documents. So, save the file’s name in a way that we will search for it.
Tips: Create folder name TEMPORARY or DELETE the folder.
In this folder, place the documents for quick review, the screenshots of things, or other things that are only needed for that time.
Make it a must to delete those files on a daily or weekly basis.
2. Delete unwanted files and documents
Find out where you save all the documents.
Decide whether to keep or delete those files.
Depends on how much time you have right now. If you’re a busy person, just spend 10-15 minutes each day slowly deleting the files you have.
Tips: Not sure whether to delete the documents or not? Move them to the archive folder instead of the documents folder. This way, it will prevent the old documents to clutter your actively used and recent document.
3. Create a folder system that will work
I think this is the most crucial thing in this file storage saga or decluttering the laptop.
The only reason the documents keep on re accumulating is that I never create a sort of system to make it work.
Maybe for a few weeks, I will have this very clean desktop and organize documents then BAM! I’m drowning in a pool of documents again
Tip: Create a folder and subfolder system that works for you. Previously, when I arrange my documents, I will make them very specific as I follow certain guides I found on the internet.
But I didn’t notice that the system they created is working for them but not for me. The very specific folder is very hard to find (at least for me)
31.8_Thesis_First Draft_New Format_Discussion_Part 1
When I save a certain document with very specific details like this, I feel quite confident at first. There’s no way I couldn’t find this file.
But a few weeks later, I will still struggle in finding this particular file. I know certain people work well with this super-specific naming of the documents, but I think for me, it is not really the best idea.
That’s the reason why I said, pick the system that works well for you. You might need to do trial and error to pick on which system works best for you
p/s: File inside 3 folders deep is hard to find
pp/s: Documents that the name is too specific are also hard to find.
So here are some ways we can go about creating the system/folder:
- Arrange it by category. Your category
- Arrange it by date/month/quarter
- Arrange it in an alphabetical manner
The important idea of creating the folder system is that it should be working for you and not the other way around.
Scrolling for 20 minutes to find that one particular document signifies the failure of the system (like me). Or lack of the system.
And the system should be simplified and personified for you.
4. Use the cloud sync system
To back up and secure the documents.
Especially the important work documents. Wise people said that by all means always back up your work.
I have a mental trauma when my laptop is broken during my Ph.D. and I lose some of the important documents and drafts of my thesis (cry).
I’m lucky that all my results and data I have kept nicely in the pen drive. But just imagine if I don’t do it.
This cloud sync system should have the documents saved in the same manner as the file system you have on the laptop.
This is to ensure easy access and being able to retrieve it back.
5. Create a shortcut that will direct you to the location of the files
Other suggestion: Use Favourite (Macbook) or quick access (Windows)
I am nowhere near the expert in handling the multiple files directory system most productivity gurus had.
I will just keep it minimal and essential. I will keep what I need and delete what I don’t need anymore. Simple.
I think that most important thing is to keep the integrity of the system intact. So the weekly, monthly, and quarterly review is needed.
There you go 5 steps approach for beginners to declutter & organize digital files on your laptop.