Declutter your digital workplace and take back control of your device.
Minimalism is on the rise, both offline and online. Organizing your whole life more efficiently has never been more popular. The Marie Kondo or Konmari effect is evident online, with several subreddit users such as those found on /r/konmari, /r/declutter, /r/simpleliving, /r/minimalism etc. encouraging us that less is more. We’re not just talking about Zuckerberging your wardrobe either (although, less choice usually means faster decisions).
Most people use an electronic device of some sort on a daily basis, it might be a smartphone, laptop, tablet or combination of all three. These devices can easily overwhelm us with notifications but aside from that, they can also get cluttered.
When our physical workplaces become piled up with books, cups and paperwork etc., we tend to notice and we do something about it but when our digital workplaces become piled up, we don’t tend to act fast enough. We’ve mentioned digital minimalism in a previous article but this one is going to be far more detailed with actionable tasks that you can try yourself.
Could your hard drive or cloud drive do with some organization?
Whether it’s an internal, external or cloud drive, shared documents, photos, spreadsheets and videos soon pile up if you don’t keep on top of your drive organization. Remember to give all of your files descriptive names so that you can find things more easily.
This is even more important if your drive is shared, such as at work. Making sure other people can find files using obvious keywords will mean they’re less likely to have to ask you where those files are.
When was the last time you went through your bookmarks?
We’ve all found a great article, video or website that we’ve decided to save for later. However, chances are there are some sites you’ve never been back to. Try organizing your bookmarks by category and delete any bookmarks you’re unlikely to use. You might find something you’ve been looking for or something you love but forgot about altogether!
Is your email folder overflowing?
Let’s start with that spam folder, take a brief look through the first few pages in case you’ve missed something important. Remember that sometimes emails you want to read can end up in your spam folder by accident! Clear out your draft folder if there’s anything in there, be sure to first check if there was anything you were meant to send but didn’t.
Empty your deleted email folder, treat it as you would any other rubbish bin/trash can and throw away that rubbish/garbage! It’s unlikely you’ll be able to recycle it. Open and reply to any emails you have been putting aside, get it out of the way. If you have a lot of email subscriptions, be sure to unsubscribe. If there are too many for you to handle, there are options available online to mass remove subscribed accounts.
What’s going on with your desktop?
Sometimes having too much saved on your computer’s desktop can be really off putting. Delete anything you no longer need such as shortcuts you don’t use anymore etc. Once you’ve done that and you’re certain you haven’t removed anything you want to keep, empty your computer’s rubbish bin/trash can.
It’s a good idea to treat your desktop as more of a temporary location for files, if you really want to use your desktop as a dumping ground, you can create a folder to put everything in and come back to it at a later date! Shortcuts are great but only if you use them!
Are you managing your workflow?
Regardless as to whether or not you work alone or in a team, you will need to make sure your mind is clutter free. Similarly to your email inbox etc. your brain needs a bit of a clear out from time to time, in order to make space for the tasks at hand.
Using flowcharts and project management tools such as Trello can be incredibly useful. However, it’s a good idea to check that everyone involved understands the processes if you’re in a team environment, or at least make sure everyone has access to information which explains these processes.
Otherwise, they won’t use the tool and might instead opt for something which suits them better, such as an old school pen and paper based list method. Summaries are also helpful as they show other team members what has been done and what needs to be done without the need for meetings. Keeping time tracking software up to date works well too.
Learn how to say no. This is really crucial to getting your work done. If you have several recurrent responsibilities which need to be taken care of week on week but you’re also asked to take on a number of other more random tasks, think carefully. Can you really afford the time it will take to do all of the random tasks?
Is it easier to get them out of the way straight away? Who could you delegate a task to if you’re really unable to take care of it? Managing your time efficiently and setting boundaries for yourself, will help prevent burnout. What’s the worst that can happen?
Telling someone on Monday that they will need to wait until Wednesday when you have some free time for a task is better than agreeing to do it on Monday and not doing it. Be honest about the value of your time.
When did you last move from your desk?
We hope that after reading this, you feel as though you’ll be able to organize your digital workplace a little bit better. However, we don’t really want to encourage sitting in front of your devices all day for hours on end, even if you’re tidying them up, so make sure you do some stretches or stand up and walk around (if you can)! It’s always good to take breaks.
Is there anything you’d like to add, have we missed anything? If you’re interested in sharing your experiences with us or writing a guest post for us, send us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org!
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