Decluttering & Simplifying Digital Space

Well, you all know the feeling when you search for a digital document, you look everywhere in your computer, and everything is such a mess you end up with frustration.

“I just had it somewhere” clogs your productivity in such a way that you cannot even start a task sometimes. And welcome procrastination.

It hit me that I hadn’t organized my digital space for a long time when I encountered this:

before

It was filled with junk. I hadn’t pressed the delete button for a long long time. It was a stressful semester at work, I had changed jobs and keeping up wasn’t easy. So I had a lot of documents from my old job that I can toss and a lot from the new job to organize. Plus I’d watched a lot of series lately and all of them downloaded straight to the desktop. I had the idea of downloading everything to desktop because that way I could see it and say goodbye when needed. But not so much of that had happened in the last few months.

Before I started organizing and decluttering (well they go hand in hand) I also took a screen shot of my hard drive space.

before hard disk.png

It turned out I freed up 17 GBs of unwanted- will-never-be-needed documents!

One big advice who wants to declutter their digital space, be it computer, tablet or phone, is that you should start doing it ASAP.

Starting is the biggest helper. If you have a lot of stuff to go through, you can chunk it.

The second big advice is that you shouldn’t leave any documents without a folder. Folder anything. Believe me, it helps a lot, because you know you folder everything, next time you download something recyclebin-worthy, you’re gonna know it and erase it soon.

Here was the order I followed:

First, Desktop. So many things on that desktop that I don’t need now. Films/videos watched and not going to be watched again, e-mail attachments I won’t need, downloaded pictures, edited/cropped pictures, unfoldered photos and so on.

I sent the ones I want to keep to their folders (and created folders when need be).

Then, Documents Folder. So many things here, I didn’t know what to do first. I had three separate folders for e-books, such as e-books, books, and pdfs. I decided to tackle this first and I created 1 e-books folder with the sub-folders “fiction” “non-fiction” (for self-help, cookbooks and science-related books, probably will revisit and reorganize this sub) and “English” (for reference and linguistic books and such). This was the most difficult thing to do. As Brian Tracy suggested, I “ate that frog”. The others unfolded very easily. I erased lots of stuff from my workplace, and foldered everything else, even if they have silly names like “needed” “unneeeded” “from husband’s PC” etc.

The third stop was the Pictures folder. Luckily, I had done some organization before, filing the photos by year every year, starting from 2012, when I bought this laptop. For the miscellanous pictures and artwork, I had a separate folder and I made other folders for the old photos and food photography.

On to the Music and Videos folders. I realised I don’t save MP3s anymore, rather I go on listen to things online. But my all-time favorites like Coldplay, Alanis Morissette, Pink Floyd and Chopin 🙂 deserve to stay there. I can always return to them without the help of the Internet. This was the time for me to see some songs/artists on my PC do not resonate with me anymore. So I fared well 🙂 Same thing true for the Videos folder, which I use to store movies. I said goodbye to those that I know I won’t watch again, ever. But some classics I like to watch over and over again, stayed with me.

Lastly I went to Program Files and uninstalled some programs I never use. This also frees up a lot of space.

Things I couldn’t let go: My game files of Sims 1, Sims 3, Diablo II and Diablo III. Yes, I love ancient video games (which are far more difficult than recent games) and although I haven’t played for over two months, I still feel an attachment to those. I know I am kind of addicted and recovering. Maybe one day I will give the idea up.

Lastly I ran CCleaner to clean up any leftovers.

My desktop afterwards:

after

I chose a simpler wallpaper so it feels much lighter now. And another tip, if you’re a visual person, you can download icons for your folders and have fun with them. You can see my elephant and zebra there, which are soo cute, just my taste.

So that’s it. I hope this post encouraged you to organize some parts of your digital space for clarity and productivity. I am really relieved to free up my space by 17 GBs, it feels just as though you organized and cleaned your bedroom and will sleep in a clutter-free bedroom now.

If you want to read more about digital decluttering and why, there is a great article  on becomingminimalist.com, go and check it out.

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