Do you feel overwhelmed in your flat mess? Look a bit closer to your desktop background screen.
It’s almost the same amount of time we spend in our houses (without sleeping time). Clean and organize our digital flats (phone, computer and any other electronic devices) is as important as cleaning our kitchen.
The problem? Between our clouds, phone memory, computer memory, our external drive, our tablet, etc. There is a lot to organize and filter.
For your own happiness and productivity, a comfortable and healthy environment is a must.
How to avoid being digitally overwhelmed by our own mess? That’s the subject of this post. In this Medium, I’ll focus on the computer. My examples will be Windows related, but it applies to Linux and Mac as well.
How a geek ends up cleaning his computer?
In Phnom Phen (Cambodia 🇰🇭), we lived with two other digital nomads. The guy was coach/copywriter and his partner learned to become a tidy consultant.
Olène, the future consultant, offered me her services. We removed almost 3 kilos from my backpack. Goodbye to my underwear with holes, my very useful pullover with 35° outside and my sleeping bag. Now, I hope that my luggage is accepted as carry-on…
This Computer is a Mess
After ordering my clothes and books, I extended my organizational new activity to another messy room: my computer.
A bad habit is to pay additional storage instead of decluttering.
- When our accommodation it’s full, we rent a garage.
- When our computer is full, we buy 1 TB yearly subscription on Dropbox, Google Drive etc.
1 TB is more than 2 million photos. Despite you are a filmmaker or data analysis firm, why would we need so much?
My laptop was almost full
- Internal Storage: 238/260 GB used
Marie Kondo Tidy Style Applied to our Computer
Olène taught me the methodology of Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant. This 1m40 woman has her own Netflix program where she orders American closets of 3 meters high…
The way she organizes homes can be mixed with our process to clean our computer. So, let’s dive into it.
1. Begin with a vision.
What are your goals for 2019? What are the objectives that you crave for?
- Organize your folders according to your goals.
They should be easily accessible. Indeed, you are going to use them a lot if you want to stick to your goals 😉.
- Reduce your sequences of 3 clicks max to find a file.
For each of my 2019 goals, I created a folder. This order you can find it everywhere on my computer.
My to-do list
2. Get small habits.
On the internet, everything is accessible and free (for Torrent users at least). We download so many things that we don’t deeply need: pdf which looks interesting, stupid photo, URL to remember. The more you will be selective, the more you’ll keep your computer clean.
From now, when you download a cat video, check if you can place this video in one of your goals folders. Otherwise, destroy the file immediately.
Marie doesn’t advise the temporary folder. “I’ll order this later” folder end up being a mess forever… If this cat video is just fun, watch it, share it and destroy it asap.
Less you have more you will organize your mind and stick to your goals.
3. Process by categories
We are all busy and distractions are everywhere on our computer. The plan “I’m going to spend 7 hours Sunday to clean my computer” tends to be a wish…
- Process with small batches.
Every week for 30 minutes, clean your computer with one specific category (photos and videos, business files, educational doc, etc.).
- Settle specific places for each category.
I use Google Drive for my pictures and videos (because it’s unlimited and free). Onedrive is for my personal and business folders. All important files are on my computer offline.
4. First, discard then organize.
It might take ages if you must create a folder for every element. Delete button syndrome is the only way to clean your computer effectively and quickly.
According to Marie Kondo, we should keep only the clothes and objects that we deeply love and provide us joy. If we put the same principle to our massive digital decluttering, we’ll keep only the files, photos, videos that provide joy and pleasure (so recommendation letter, photos with friends and naked pictures of your ex).
5. Respect your belongings.
Kondo gives a lot of attention to her clothes and objects. A shirt protects you and makes you beautiful. In return, do we give any appreciation for our shirt?
Arthur, let me explain to you something “a shirt doesn’t have a soul” … Ok, if you don’t like this hippy, karma mindset, leave it aside.
Anyway, there are software and files that we use every day. It can be your email box, your Excel sheets or your browser bookmarks. If you organize them and give a bit more of attention, it would be so much easier in the future.
Let’s take an example,
- Respect your important files and just give them a name.
- Organize your bookmarks on your favourite browser (Safari, Chrome, Mozilla, Internet Edge, etc.). It will save you a lot of time!
The big order
1. Pictures Selection
When you declutter your albums, leave nostalgia alone.
- Hard Way: You destroy all your screenshots and specific events that are worthless to you.
- Soft Way: You destroy pictures one by one. It takes a lot of times.
Once you have deleted massively and emptied your bin, check if all your pictures are well-backed up in your Cloud. The best way to check, it’s to look for specific dates and important events
2. Videos Selection
Videos are a nightmare if you want to make some space… The only solution I’ve found, it’s an external drive or everything on YouTube as private videos.
3. Your Desktop
- Empty your bin.
- Keep only a few folders accessible. Less you have more you’ll be organized.
- Create your own desktop wallpaper. It can be inspirational, creative and organizational. You’ll find some ideas on Pinterest
4. Your Applications
- Remove Web Apps from your computer.
A lot of apps are available online (LinkedIn, Facebook, Netflix). So why should we keep them on our computer?
- Remove Default Apps that you never use.
- Create a Favourite Apps Folder.
Do a checklist of which apps you use daily and monthly. Those should be available easily.
5. Your General Files
- Find duplicates and destroy them massively.
- Stop sharing all our life. Share only specific files you want to be outside.
Marie Kondo thinks that we can’t live a happy life if you are overwhelmed by our own stuff.
Be aware that our digital consumption has an impact on our success and our life. Count all the precious minutes you’ll earn if you don’t need to look 5 minutes for your Word Document or last report.
If you need to clean your computer regularly, try to dig into the source of the problem: your digital consumption. The Internet offers us a lot of free contents and cheap tools. It’s a poisonous gift.
Less is more.
Embrace the minimalism in the digital world.