It’s right up there with eating healthier and spending less. Most of us start out the year with plans to be more organized, but then somehow we never quite get started. By the time February rolls around, we’re already saying to ourselves, “Well, maybe next year.”
Lucky thing January 14 is National Clean Your Desk Day, the perfect incentive to get an early start on at least one of your 2019 goals. And how better to celebrate than by cleaning up your computer desktop?
Obviously, you can’t just trash it all like you’re scraping remnants from a holiday dinner plate into a garbage bag. Instead, you’ll need to find a method to organize your desktop that will allow you to retain what’s needed, purge what isn’t, and sort it all in ways that you can keep up with.
How to Begin
First, select a simple wallpaper design that won’t distract you. Now that you’ve selected a sleek new wallpaper, you’ll need to declutter and organize your desktop so you can actually keep it in view.
Next, you’ll want to set up a new organizational structure so that you won’t just cover your wallpaper in clutter all over again as the daily deluge of images, documents, and apps finds its way to your inboxes and workplace management tools. Not only can a cluttered desktop make it hard to stay organized and easy to lose items that need your attention, but it can also increase your stress levels.
As you try to decide what to keep, what to trash, and what needs immediate attention (how could you have overlooked that hidden item for so long?), take extra time to find an organizational method that’s right for you.
First, if you have so many items on your desktop that the very thought of sorting them feels overwhelming, consider using a categorical sorting method to organize your desktop, and then break it down into further steps from there.
For example, both Windows and Mac allow you to right-click your desktop and select “Sort by” from the menu that appears. From there, you can select a category, such as “Date modified” or “Item type,” to get started. This will also make it easier to retrieve what you need until you are able to find the time to do a more personalized reorganization.
Next, consider implementing a short-term sorting method by creating five to six very general folders and separating every item currently on your desktop into one of them. Possible categories for your general folders might include “to be archived,” “new images,” or “work projects.” Then, as new items are sent to you, temporarily store them in these very general folders.
Schedule time each week to file them more appropriately for long-term storage, deleting what you don’t need to store as you go. This can take as little as 10 minutes a week since you’ve already performed a preliminary sort. This method turns your desktop into a temporary work area, with your longer-term files archived in folders you do not see on your desktop.
Alternatively, you can delegate all that tedious sorting work to a free desktop organizing tool. DropIt can help you get a handle on that long list of downloads you’ve never gotten around to filing, while digiKam can organize photos and help you input metadata for more effective and more easily retrievable image archiving.
Stardock’s Fences is an inexpensive sorting solution that creates rectangular “fences” around items of various types and allows you to customize how those fences appear on your desktop. Mac’s new Stacks feature, part of the Mojave operating system, works similarly, and you can make it even more useful by implementing its metadata Tag feature.
But maybe you’re the kind of person who likes to see what’s on your desktop, and the thought of placing all those projects and icons in folders you can’t see inside seems more stressful than any amount of clutter could ever be. The solution for you might be Nimi Places, an organizational solution that allows you to see the documents inside expandable opaque folders. Mac’s Stacks system has a similar feature that fans documents within folders out like a deck of cards for easy browsing.
Whatever method you choose, if you organize your desktop, not only will it increase your productivity and decrease your stress levels at work, it might just give you the confidence to tackle your budget, your diet, or even your physical workspace.
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