Is your computer bogged down with too many icons and too many bookmarks? Are there files and documents everywhere but where you need them? Is all that junk getting in your way and slowing down your productivity? Maybe it’s time for a computer cleanup!
Join me this month as we clear away the clutter and streamline our computers!
Week 2: Email
If you have over 100 emails unread – you’re not alone!
To start the cleanup process, go through your inbox and mark all the emails as read. Then scan each email starting with the most recent.
Read the email once and decide right away – action item, reference item, trash item. Need details on how that all works? Check out the series I posted here about email management –
When cleaning up, tackle your email in 5 or 10 minute chunks – don’t allow email cleanup to monopolize your whole day. Remember, if an email is more than a month old, there’s probably no urgency with it.
Once you’ve got your email cleaned up, remember to tackle incoming email with the same question – action, reference, or trash. Asking the question, and acting on it, will help you stay on top of email clutter.
Join us next week when we talk about maintaining a clean desktop.
It’s a digital world out there. To survive and thrive, we need to utilize software. Today, I want to take you behind the scenes of my business to show you the software I rely on every day.
Evernote – my second brain. Everything I need to know about anything, and what I think about it, lives here.
Dropbox – all my documents live in Dropbox – both personal and professional. The best part of Dropbox is I can access my documents regardless of what device I am on.
Insightly – my CRM. This is where I keep all my client information so I know who to contact when.
Chrome – usually my first choice for a browser. When it’s not, then I turn to Firefox.
GSuite – essential for email, calendar, and contact management. I recommend this to anyone who wants a professional email with the ease of a Google interface.
QuickBooks Online – this is where I manage my business finances.
MailChimp – my email marketing software, what I use to send my newsletters and mailings.
All of this software is web based, although Evernote and Dropbox also live on my computer. I have a paid account for everything on the list except for MailChimp – their free version is robust enough for my current needs.
How about you? What software is on your ‘can’t live without’ list? Let me know! I’m always looking for new software solutions to explore!
Paper documents and digital documents. You’ll find organizers who specialize in one or the other, but is organizing paper really that different from organizing digital files? When it comes down to it, many of the same principles apply to both formats. After all, you are organizing information, regardless of the form it is in. So what is the same?
Those words stop us in our tracks. We frown and cross our arms. Windows 8.1 looks weird. There isn’t a Start button. Why can’t we close a program? We just don’t like it and it’s too much work to figure out something so radically different.
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.