Five tips to clear your digital desktop

To reverse the damaging effects of digital hoarding you need to follow these five tips on clearing your digital desktop, and keeping it clutter free.

Order and chaos desktop computer keys

This final post on digital hoarding focuses on keeping your desktop tidy. Just as it’s difficult to work on a desk that’s covered in paper, folders and mouldy coffee cups, it’s just as hard to stay focused when your digital desktop is a mess. Here are the top five tips to clean it up and keep it clear:

  1. File as you save. Don’t save anything straight to your desktop. If you’re saving a document it means you know you will need to come back to it so put it straight into a logically named folder, where you’ll know how to find it.
  2. Delete as you download. When you import files or photos from an external storage device, make sure you clear out the rubbish straight away. You don’t need blurry pictures of the carpet or a promotional flyer from three years ago bloating your hard drive.
  3. Look for duplicates. This problem is particularly applicable to documents that have been repeatedly edited and to music files. iTunes has a ‘display duplicates’ which makes it easy to spot copies and it’s easy to search your hard drive for files of the same name. While searching, watch out for old versions of documents that are no longer relevant and erase them too.
  4. Uninstall unused apps. Everyone is seduced by shiny new apps, but a lot of the time we stop using them after a month or two. Go to your applications file, or program list, and delete the apps that you haven’t used in the last 12 months. Be careful though, if there are any you don’t recognise, look them up first in case they are integral to your operating system.
  5. Don’t be afraid of paper. Index cards, post-it notes and diaries are all valid ways to store information and reminders. With the growing use of smartphones and tablets, there has been a big push to do everything online. Sometimes, however, it’s much easier to pop a reminder on a piece of paper then throw it in the bin, rather than create a digital note that you forget to delete. (Even the Unclutterer’s 2012 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Software lists the Emergent Task Planner, a paper notebook, as a brilliant bonus idea.)

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