This past month, I upgraded my 7 year old computer for a new one. In the past it was such a challenge to move files from one computer to a new one, and often things would get lost, or computers would get backed up on external hard drives, never to be used again. Now, moving files is pretty simple, technology makes it easy to upload to the cloud or transfer files via wifi. This definitely makes it easy when you are upgrading to a new computer or device, but it also creates a lot of digital clutter. The time I spent moving files over, and seeing documents from 15 years ago (really!), made me realize that we need to learn how to tackle this clutter before it gets overwhelming. Do we really need to keep holding on to this clutter? Do you delete old files? Do you organize your files in any way? When you transfer files to a new computer, do you look at them or go back to them?
What do we do with all of this information? Do we keep just moving it from place to place and increase our storage space on our computers? Digital clutter builds up the same way physical clutter does. It’s actually even easier to build up the digital clutter because we don’t think about it as much when we run out of storage, we just find ways to increase our digital space and let it build up.
What’s the best way to deal with this digital clutter and avoid overwhelm?
First, know that you won’t get through the backlog of digital clutter in a day, it takes time, just as any organizing project you’re going to tackle. Next, start now. Start noticing what you save, how many copies or versions of it you save, and what is currently on your desktop. Start there. Notice your habits with digital files, and start cleaning up what is up front and center. Starting now, create some new habits when it comes to your digital files and what you save.
Now, to tackle the backlog. If it is already organized into folders, I would start folder by folder and start clearing from there. Start with the oldest folders you can find. You’d be surprised, and laugh, and some of the things you’ve saved and held on to!
If it’s not already organized in any way, make a folder and call it “review” or something that will be a visually reminder to you to sort. Move all of your old files into that folder. Start cleaning out from there. The great part of this process is that you can start getting more organized digitally. You get to make folders from scratch and as you find things you are keeping move them to the place that makes sense for you and your habits.
Take it one file at a time, one folder at a time. You’ll feel amazing as you shed the weight of your digital clutter! You’ll also start saving money if you are paying for additional storage space on your computer.