Decluttering and organising digital documents
I recently sorted and organised every single digital document I own. I expected it to take me days of staring in mild agitation at my screen, as I wrestled with thousands of little yellow folders.
Surprisingly, it only took me about half a day to complete, and by the end of it I’d renamed, removed and reassigned almost all of the documents stored in my cloud. I now know exactly what documents I own, which folders to find them in and where to allocate new files. It was a hugely satisfying achievement that still feels absolutely wonderful!
The process was worthy of a name so I called it, The Big Sort Out!
The Big Sort Out was prompted by a renewal request from my existing file management provider. I knew there were free alternatives available but I just hadn’t got around to addressing the task until I was faced with a renewal bill.
Deadlines (especially ones involving payments) can be great motivators! I see this a lot when tackling physical clutter with my clients. The deadline of an impending house guest can be a fantastic motivator to clear out your spare room; a tea date with your children’s friends can be a catalyst to organise your toy cupboard; the builder starting your loft conversion may well get you sorting through dusty old boxes.
It’s the same with getting started on your digital clutter. Your motivator might be to stop paying for cloud storage, to eliminate the daily frustration of searching for missing files, or simply to reduce the volume of documents in storage.
If you’re ready to embrace your own Big Sort Out, here are 3 tips to help you get underway:
Keep all your documents together in one place. This will help you see what you’ve got and make it easier to spot what you no longer need. Gather together any floating documents from other devices and drives. You might simply create a folder on your desktop called Documents. Group similar topics together dividing them into sub folders. Keep your system simple, being consistent and specific with your document names so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for.
Consider what you need to keep. Regularly delete any out of date, unused, or redundant documents and folders. It’s much easier to organise less so before filing every document you come across, consider whether you really need to keep it. Look at your directories and think about where you would look for it if you needed it.
Make a plan to maintain your documents. When you go into a folder, develop a habit of getting rid of anything you spot that you no longer need. Whenever you create or receive a new document, ensure you file it quickly to prevent building up floating documents in random places. Consider choosing a regular interval, such as the end of the month or half yearly, to carry out a mini review.
This will help ensure your system remains simple, ordered and clear, helping you avoid another Big Sort Out in the future.