It's a well-known fact that physical clutter can wreak havoc on your mental well-being; a disorganized home or work space can cause higher stress levels, fatigue and even depression. But what about your digital clutter? A crowded email inbox, haphazard electronic filing system and disorganized text messages, photos and videos can have the same mind-numbing effect as a messy physical space. Here's how to take back control.
Develop a Folder System
The first step in organizing your digital clutter is developing a folder system. This may take a while, so set aside a good chunk of time to go through your email inbox, files and other information. As you look at each item, determine what kind of category it could fall into; for instance, you may come up with categories for emails such as "Spam," "Personal" and "Work." For pictures and videos, your categories may look like "Family Photos," "Selfies" and "Pet Photos." Once you have a core list of categories, take a step further and create subcategories. These subcategories will help tremendously when you need to find a very specific photo or file. For each category and subcategory, create folders and subfolders.
Create Naming Guidelines
Using a consistent theme to name all your documents and files helps you locate them much more quickly. For example, you may try "Name-Location-Month-Year" to name all your photos. This way, whenever you need to locate something specific, you know exactly what to type into the search bar.
Letting your emails pile into a big bucket of an inbox can lead to digital clutter fairly quickly, so take advantage of your email service's filter functions. You can have incoming messages automatically sent to specific folders depending on whatever parameters you set. You can send all emails from co-workers to a "Work" folder, or all emails from a specific person to a folder with his name on it. This kind of system keeps you from having to scroll through tons of messages to find the ones you may be waiting for; instead, you go straight to the folder you need to check for updates.
Photos and Videos
It's easy to let your phone, tablet or computer get bogged down with digital photos and videos. This kind of digital clutter can be difficult to get rid of because it’s often meaningful moments that are captured. To begin, scroll through all your photos and videos and immediately delete any repeats, blurry photos, photos with poor lighting, poor quality videos, and any photos or videos that no longer hold meaning for you. What you're left with should be further organized into folders, just like your emails and documents.
Save and Secure
Once you downsize and organize your digital clutter into a cohesive system, it's time to preserve the important files that are left. Try saving your files in multiple places. Save one copy to your computer's hard drive, one copy to the cloud and one on a separate external hard drive.
Organizing your digital clutter can be an overwhelming task, but the payoff to your well-being is worth the effort. You'll enjoy more space on all your devices, greater time management and peace of mind.
Photo courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net