Ilios Digital Organizing Blog

12 May 2013

Digital Hoarding

We know what physical clutter looks like–stacks of newspapers, dusty knick-knacks, piles of clothes. But computer clutter is also becoming an increasing problem.

What does computer clutter – or digital hoarding at one extreme – look like? It can be tens of thousands of emails, old photos, and music files taking up hard drive space, making it difficult to find needed information quickly. How many of your video or music files have you looked at or listened to more than once? Do you have hundreds of photos from an event you don’t even recall? How about pictures with people you don’t like in them?

Lack of organization is part of the problem, but for some people it goes beyond that. Have you considered getting a new computer since your hard drive is almost full? Do you continue buying portable disk drives because you keep running out of space? Are you overly excited by the unlimited possibilities of cloud storage?

The problem has only gotten worse since digital storage has gotten less costly. These days you can buy a terabyte hard drive for less than $150 dollars. How big is a terabyte? You can store 2,000 hours of music or 300 hours of high quality video on a terabyte drive. That is a lot of stuff!

So how do you simplify your digital life?

  • Make Choices: You aren’t required to be on every social network or subscribed to every newsletter. Figure out the ones that make the most sense for you and eliminate the others. Consider using a RSS reader to keep up with blogs you follow. Do a quick sort on your digital photos to delete those out of focus or just plain bad.
  • Sift through emails: Delete those you won’t need, archive others, and develop a strategy for moving forward.
  • For computer files, use the same category names on your computer as you do on paper. By using the same structure and folder style as your paper files, it may be easier to find a computer document and put things away in both places.
  • Label your files deliberately. Even though each paper in your file cabinet doesn’t need a name, every file in your computer does. A file name should be descriptive and may need to include: document title, creation date, author, version etc. You should be able to find the digital file you need without having to open it. (For those of you in the advanced course, you can also use metadata to tag your files…more on that later!)

Sometimes the amount of stuff in our digital life can seem overwhelming. But take it one piece at a time and before long you will have computer clutter under control!

Big thanks to Joshua Zerkel, Certified Professional Organizer® and owner of Custom Living Solutions in San Francisco, for writing the original article this newsletter is based off.
**Image by Flickr user psd, used via Creative Commons.

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Ilios Digital Organizing Blog

29 September 2021

Why Inbox Zero Won’t Fix Your Email Problems

How many times are you checking your email each day? Either because you’re bored or because you’re trying to stay on top of your unread count? How much spam are you getting? Cat memes you didn’t ask for (but why not, they’re about cats!), and messages you didn’t need to be cc’d on. That’s not including all the newsletters and ads you subscribed to at one point.

The business world runs on email.

Love it or hate it, you can’t leave it behind or pretend it doesn’t exist.  But beyond basic communication, email can be just as much of a distraction as it is a tool. This is where Inbox Zero comes in.

You’ve heard of Inbox Zero, right? It’s a productivity hack, a system that was developed as a way of managing email clutter and distractions. The goal is to keep the inbox empty – or nearly empty – at all times. Inbox zero. It’s a great goal, one that a lot of people work hard to maintain on a daily basis. This is not about those people.

This is about other people. Those whose inbox will fill up with emails, into the thousands, and they’ll set aside a day to try and achieve Inbox Zero through mass deletions and processing.  It’s a one day blitz and after achieving their goal, and celebrating, the user goes back to business as usual.

Using Inbox Zero this way is just like putting your inbox on a diet.

The problem with so many diets out there is that they are focused only on achieving the result. Drink this shake and lose 10 pounds. Try this meal plan for a month and lose 15 pounds. The thought is you go on a diet, then eventually you go off a diet and return to your normal life. With this approach, there’s no permanent change in how you behave. Once you’re off the diet you go back to living the behaviors that got you there in the first place. 

Too many people use Inbox Zero like a diet for your inbox. They focus on getting the result – zero emails – thinking this will solve all their email problems.  But an inbox diet isn’t the answer to email management. Better habits are.

So what can you do today to better manage your email?

  1. Make a decision about that email the first time you read it – action item, reference item, or trash. Read and react.
  2. Create filters to keep your inbox uncluttered. Get those urgent items front and center instead of hidden in the spam.
  3. Set specific times to check emails and turn off your notifications. Theses dings and flags interrupt your workflow and decrease your productivity.
  4. Be the change you want to see in the world. Send the type of messages you want to receive and model positive email behavior to others.

And remember, better email management is a lifestyle change, not a diet. Instead of chasing the goal of trying to get down to zero emails in your inbox, focus on building better habits as the way to manage your inbox and incoming email!

Need help getting your email under control? Call me and let’s talk about how!

14 September 2021

How to Eat Your Frog

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Or maybe it was something about eating a frog first thing in the morning. Either way, there’s an important message there.

Many clients I work with tell me about the “pile” of things that have accumulated. Maybe it’s the unread count in email, maybe it’s the number of documents in your downloads folder. No matter where the stuff has gathered, there is this prevailing feeling that you have to tackle the whole thing at once. 

And nobody wants to do that.

But that all at once theory isn’t true!

The pile didn’t accumulate in a day, so don’t try to tackle it all at once. Instead, take 10 – 15 minutes at a time and see what you can accomplish. Before you know it, the pile is a little smaller, and a little more manageable. For many people once they have the pile tackled, it’s easy to stay on top of the everyday.

Do you need help tackling your pile of emails or your stack of files? Reply here and let me know what I can do to help you be more productive!

1 September 2021

How to Clear Your Digital Desktop

A clean desk is a sign of a disturbed mind.


I saw that once on a coffee mug and laughed. Of course, it’s not true. It isn’t, right? : )


Regardless of whether you are working at home or in an office, we all have a desk of sorts. It might be the dining room table or a dedicated desk in your private office. When it’s clean, work is easier. You can find what you need quickly and the things that need your attention are front and center.  All things that can lead to increased productivity.


The same is true for your digital desktop. Clear away the unnecessary icons and save the documents to the documents folder instead of on the desktop.  Get rid of old downloads and program icons you no longer need. Doing so will provide you a clean slate when you sit down at your desk in the morning. 

And a clean, organized desk, is a sign of a productive mind.

Need help clearing your desktop? Let me know! Sign up for a Discovery Call today and we’ll talk!

17 August 2021

What You Need, Front and Center

Last week we started talking about the 4 things you can do to be more productive. This week, we’ll tackle a second thing you can do to increase your daily productivity!

Does anybody remember when they got their computer, opened it up, and turned it on for the first time?
Down on the Dock (for you Mac people) and on the start menu (Windows people) were icons for programs the creators thought you might need quick access to. Most people nod and say, sure, sounds good, and go about their business, never changing the order of their icons or even adding new ones.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

I got a new laptop last month and the first thing I did – after opening the package and oohing and aahhing over the contents – was remove those programs I didn’t use. Things like News and Stocks and Garage Band.  Then I added in Evernote, Chrome, and Outlook to round out my standard setup.

You can do that too! Instead of being resigned to access your program the long way, you can change the icons in your start-up menu to reflect those programs you use most frequently.  It’s a little step you can take to improve your daily productivity.

Don’t forget – the same principles apply to your phone too! Don’t shuffle through multiple screens to get to what you use most frequently. Instead, sort out the icons you need and move them to the first screen or two.

Need help moving those icons? Let me know and we’ll get it set together.

Join me next week for another little thing you can do to improve your productivity!

3 August 2021

Empty Your Brain to Sleep Better

Have you ever woken up at 3 in the morning, frantically trying to remember if you sent that email you promised a client? Heart pounding and mind racing? Yeah, nobody likes that feeling. But imagine the peaceful dreams you could have if you knew everything was documented, prioritized, and waiting for you to tackle in the morning.

You can have that! How? Pull out a piece of paper or your task management software and empty your brain on a regular basis. Once a day, once a week, whatever works, just take a moment and write down everything you can think of that you need to do, order, create, etc. Don’t worry about priority or the size of the task. A brain dump is just about getting the information out of your head and into a trusted system. David Allen (of Getting Things Done) said it best when he said our brains were meant for processing information, not for holding information.

Having task management software – and a regular brain dump – ensure that all your responsibilities and commitments are accounted for and waiting for you to act.  No need to wake up at 3 with that panicked look on your face.
Need help finding a task management software or want help setting your software up? Let me know and we can get it done together!

20 July 2021

You are the solution!

Sometimes the failure isn’t in the system, but in us not using it. Creating new habits takes time and stick-to-it-ness.

I know you can do it!

But if you need help setting up your task management system – Let me know!

Check out dinosandcomics on Instagram, or on the web at dinosandcomics.com

Ilios Digital Organizing Blog

29 September 2021

Why Inbox Zero Won’t Fix Your Email Problems

How many times are you checking your email each day? Either because you’re bored or because you’re trying to stay on top of your unread count? How much spam are you getting? Cat memes you didn’t ask for (but why not, they’re about cats!), and messages you didn’t need to be cc’d on. That’s not including all the newsletters and ads you subscribed to at one point.

The business world runs on email.

Love it or hate it, you can’t leave it behind or pretend it doesn’t exist.  But beyond basic communication, email can be just as much of a distraction as it is a tool. This is where Inbox Zero comes in.

You’ve heard of Inbox Zero, right? It’s a productivity hack, a system that was developed as a way of managing email clutter and distractions. The goal is to keep the inbox empty – or nearly empty – at all times. Inbox zero. It’s a great goal, one that a lot of people work hard to maintain on a daily basis. This is not about those people.

This is about other people. Those whose inbox will fill up with emails, into the thousands, and they’ll set aside a day to try and achieve Inbox Zero through mass deletions and processing.  It’s a one day blitz and after achieving their goal, and celebrating, the user goes back to business as usual.

Using Inbox Zero this way is just like putting your inbox on a diet.

The problem with so many diets out there is that they are focused only on achieving the result. Drink this shake and lose 10 pounds. Try this meal plan for a month and lose 15 pounds. The thought is you go on a diet, then eventually you go off a diet and return to your normal life. With this approach, there’s no permanent change in how you behave. Once you’re off the diet you go back to living the behaviors that got you there in the first place. 

Too many people use Inbox Zero like a diet for your inbox. They focus on getting the result – zero emails – thinking this will solve all their email problems.  But an inbox diet isn’t the answer to email management. Better habits are.

So what can you do today to better manage your email?

  1. Make a decision about that email the first time you read it – action item, reference item, or trash. Read and react.
  2. Create filters to keep your inbox uncluttered. Get those urgent items front and center instead of hidden in the spam.
  3. Set specific times to check emails and turn off your notifications. Theses dings and flags interrupt your workflow and decrease your productivity.
  4. Be the change you want to see in the world. Send the type of messages you want to receive and model positive email behavior to others.

And remember, better email management is a lifestyle change, not a diet. Instead of chasing the goal of trying to get down to zero emails in your inbox, focus on building better habits as the way to manage your inbox and incoming email!

Need help getting your email under control? Call me and let’s talk about how!

14 September 2021

How to Eat Your Frog

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Or maybe it was something about eating a frog first thing in the morning. Either way, there’s an important message there.

Many clients I work with tell me about the “pile” of things that have accumulated. Maybe it’s the unread count in email, maybe it’s the number of documents in your downloads folder. No matter where the stuff has gathered, there is this prevailing feeling that you have to tackle the whole thing at once. 

And nobody wants to do that.

But that all at once theory isn’t true!

The pile didn’t accumulate in a day, so don’t try to tackle it all at once. Instead, take 10 – 15 minutes at a time and see what you can accomplish. Before you know it, the pile is a little smaller, and a little more manageable. For many people once they have the pile tackled, it’s easy to stay on top of the everyday.

Do you need help tackling your pile of emails or your stack of files? Reply here and let me know what I can do to help you be more productive!

1 September 2021

How to Clear Your Digital Desktop

A clean desk is a sign of a disturbed mind.


I saw that once on a coffee mug and laughed. Of course, it’s not true. It isn’t, right? : )


Regardless of whether you are working at home or in an office, we all have a desk of sorts. It might be the dining room table or a dedicated desk in your private office. When it’s clean, work is easier. You can find what you need quickly and the things that need your attention are front and center.  All things that can lead to increased productivity.


The same is true for your digital desktop. Clear away the unnecessary icons and save the documents to the documents folder instead of on the desktop.  Get rid of old downloads and program icons you no longer need. Doing so will provide you a clean slate when you sit down at your desk in the morning. 

And a clean, organized desk, is a sign of a productive mind.

Need help clearing your desktop? Let me know! Sign up for a Discovery Call today and we’ll talk!

17 August 2021

What You Need, Front and Center

Last week we started talking about the 4 things you can do to be more productive. This week, we’ll tackle a second thing you can do to increase your daily productivity!

Does anybody remember when they got their computer, opened it up, and turned it on for the first time?
Down on the Dock (for you Mac people) and on the start menu (Windows people) were icons for programs the creators thought you might need quick access to. Most people nod and say, sure, sounds good, and go about their business, never changing the order of their icons or even adding new ones.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

I got a new laptop last month and the first thing I did – after opening the package and oohing and aahhing over the contents – was remove those programs I didn’t use. Things like News and Stocks and Garage Band.  Then I added in Evernote, Chrome, and Outlook to round out my standard setup.

You can do that too! Instead of being resigned to access your program the long way, you can change the icons in your start-up menu to reflect those programs you use most frequently.  It’s a little step you can take to improve your daily productivity.

Don’t forget – the same principles apply to your phone too! Don’t shuffle through multiple screens to get to what you use most frequently. Instead, sort out the icons you need and move them to the first screen or two.

Need help moving those icons? Let me know and we’ll get it set together.

Join me next week for another little thing you can do to improve your productivity!

3 August 2021

Empty Your Brain to Sleep Better

Have you ever woken up at 3 in the morning, frantically trying to remember if you sent that email you promised a client? Heart pounding and mind racing? Yeah, nobody likes that feeling. But imagine the peaceful dreams you could have if you knew everything was documented, prioritized, and waiting for you to tackle in the morning.

You can have that! How? Pull out a piece of paper or your task management software and empty your brain on a regular basis. Once a day, once a week, whatever works, just take a moment and write down everything you can think of that you need to do, order, create, etc. Don’t worry about priority or the size of the task. A brain dump is just about getting the information out of your head and into a trusted system. David Allen (of Getting Things Done) said it best when he said our brains were meant for processing information, not for holding information.

Having task management software – and a regular brain dump – ensure that all your responsibilities and commitments are accounted for and waiting for you to act.  No need to wake up at 3 with that panicked look on your face.
Need help finding a task management software or want help setting your software up? Let me know and we can get it done together!

20 July 2021

You are the solution!

Sometimes the failure isn’t in the system, but in us not using it. Creating new habits takes time and stick-to-it-ness.

I know you can do it!

But if you need help setting up your task management system – Let me know!

Check out dinosandcomics on Instagram, or on the web at dinosandcomics.com