While the level of acceptable tidiness is different for each person, you probably take time to clean your apartment or home at least once in a while. Spring often comes with more light and more energy, which means that people are more excited to clean the space around them. Today, an important step in your spring cleaning is tidying up your computer and ‘cleaning’ your digital presence. If you haven’t done it in spring, we suggest buckling up and getting down to business.
Clean space means less anxiety
Research shows that a messy home has a negative impact on your health. It increases stress levels and decreases satisfaction with life. When you return home to a dirty apartment, your level of anxiety increases and you feel discouraged and dissatisfied. Cleaning for at least 20 minutes a day actually has both psychological and physical benefits. The same (at least the psychological part) is true for digital decluttering: if your files are well-organized, you will feel more calm, secure and motivated to start new projects.
What can you do to improve your digital presence and file-keeping? Here are some steps to get started:
Organize and name your files
You open your computer, and the desktop is half-full of different icons. You open your “Downloads” folder, and it takes a minute to load the 3244 files you’ve saved in the last year. The first step is simple: you have to sit down and take the time to look at each file and determine whether you have to delete it or you want to keep it. Don’t succumb to the temptation to throw all files in generic folders named “Stuff” or “Misc”. Decide on a hierarchy and proper folder names to be able to quickly find the document you’re looking for.
On a similar note, decide on a file-naming structure and follow it. It is difficult to find the last version between files named “project_final”, “project_finalfinal”, “project_updated” and “project_reviewed”. It is best to stick to a planned system (e.g. “project_v3”) or include the update date in the file name.
Sync your files to a secure cloud storage
You might think that organizing your files is all it takes to clean up your space. The next step takes you to an advanced level. To clean up your computer and keep your mind at peace, sync your files and set up regular backups. It is a way to delete less-often used files from your computer, protect yourself from file loss, and be less afraid to delete information from your computer. If it turns out you ever need the random video of your friends in middle-school (for blackmailing or other purposes), it will be safe and sound in your cloud storage but won’t clutter your valuable SSD space.
Files.fm offers great deals on file storage, sync and backup: https://files.fm/storage-plans
Check your online presence
Your files are in secure, well-organized folders on the cloud where nobody can access them. But what can they find about you online? Spring-cleaning your computer means also taking a hard look at your social media and e-mails. What comes up when you google your name? It is important to regularly sift through your social media accounts and delete the things that are no longer relevant for you and might influence how people look at you.
For most people, e-mails is the place where most action happens, and a person might find out a lot by looking at your e-mails. That’s why it is very important to delete your old e-mails. If you’re worried about using valuable information, you can export e-mail data and save it in cloud storage. Don’t forget to clean the e-mail trash folder, and regularly check for sensitive information (such as your SSN/ID code, bank account or passport photos) in your e-mail. These steps can protect you in the unlikely case of e-mail hacking or the more likely case of “left my e-mail open on a shared computer”.
If you take a few hours to improve the way your computer is organized, delete unnecessary files and set up syncing with an online cloud storage, you will see your mood elevated and feel more motivated to start new projects. Just don’t forget — the new projects go in the new, clean system and are not saved on your desktop with a random filename.