Digital Declutter Day 13: Clear Desktop

Welcome back to the Digital Declutter Challenge! Most people love working on a clear surface. The ability to spread out helps us to organize our materials, think clearly and minimize distraction. This truth applies to the computer desktop as well, so today’s task is to clear the documents scattered across your digital desktop.

Many people work on computers whose desktops – or displays – are covered with icons. Often, there is a mishmash of photos, videos, and documents that were temporarily dropped on the desktop, and then never got properly filed into an appropriate folder. You may have noticed this on your own computer when we started the challenge on Day #1 by uploading an inspiring image. It is hard for an image to motivate us if we can’t see it!

You may choose to keep a couple of folders on the desktop for access to the documents you most commonly access, but the goal is to move all individual files into folders so that none of them are floating around “loose” on the desktop.

Begin by moving your folders to the right side of your screen. Line these up vertically so you have a column of folders off to the right. (If necessary, slide individual files out of the way in order to fit your folders into this space.)

If you don’t have any folders, or have only a “Documents” folder, consider making a few more to help you better organize your files. Common folder names might include:

  • (Your Name) Personal
  • (Spouse Name) Personal
  • (Child’s Name) Documents (one for each child)
  • Activities/Organization Folders (e.g. Church, YMCA, Charity, Sports Club, Country Club, etc.)
  • (Current Address) Household
  • Photos
  • Media (clippings, movies, downloads)
  • Financials
  • Medical
  • School
  • Work

You may have additional folders, depending on your lifestyle and interests. In addition, you may wish to create some subfolders within your folders. For instance, a student may want to make a subfolder for each class he/she is taking, or you may wish to have a separate folder for each bank account or credit card. Don’t drive yourself crazy creating hundreds of folders; just make general buckets that make sense to you. It is wise for your digital files to mirror the ones you have in paper format. (If you have questions about setting up folders, feel free to comment with a question.)

Now you should have all of your folders on the right side of your desktop. In order to clear the desktop, simply click and drag the icons for the individual files into the appropriate folder. If you don’t recognize a document by looking at the name, take the time to open it up. If you discover documents you no longer need, move those to your trash can/recycle bin.

Once you have assigned each file to a folder or subfolder, drag the lesser-used folders back into your “Documents” folder. What you should have now is a clear screen, with a row of often-used folders off in a column on the right.

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Do you tend to drop files on your desktop? How often do you clear it off?