The idea of decluttering your computer and digital workspaces can feel overwhelming, especially for the freelancer who works at the computer all day. When you have a constant stream of files going in and out, it’s easy for a build-up to collect that slows your computer (and your mental capacity) down.
Many freelance businesses can hit a slow season during the holidays and the beginning of the year, making this the perfect time to declutter and fasten your precious laptop! When you’re in need of a digital refresh, follow these five steps to tidy up your computer and get back on track.
1. Organize and Delete Local Files
Start by thinking about how you want to organize your files on your local computer, and come up with a clear labeling system that makes searchability a breeze. If you’re using MacOS, you can use color tags to help visually organize by right-clicking on a folder. Have a clear naming system for your file folders that tells you right away what is stored within the folder – you can even number the folders to alphabetize them in order of priority or frequency of use. Check out this article for more tips on naming your files and folders!
Once you have all your folders labeled and organized to your liking, start moving files into their appropriate slots. As you move files, delete anything that you no longer need (such as almost everything in your Downloads folder and the 598 screenshots on your desktop). Storing files on your desktop is actually very bad for computer performance, so if your computer is slowing down it may be time to purge the desktop and take out the trash!
2. Empty the Trash
Look through all of your older folders that didn’t need reorganizing and delete unwanted files from there as well. Once you’ve purged every corner of your local files, it’s time to take out the trash!
Right-click on that little trash bin icon and empty it of all those deleted files to get them off your computer for good. Be sure to have your sound on so you can hear that satisfying crinkling sound of a refreshed workspace!
3. Store Old Files in the Cloud
While you were organizing and purging, you probably came across a number of files and folders that are no longer actively needed, but that you can’t erase either, such as old client projects or family photos from Christmas 2010.
These older files can take up much-needed disk space, so moving them into a cloud system (or an external hard drive if the cloud feels too…cloudy) such as Dropbox or Google Drive can free up space while still keeping all your memories and back-ups intact.
4. Clear Cache and Cookies
If your browser has been slowing down or you’ve been encountering frequent website errors, it may be time to clear your cache and cookies. This will erase your browsing activity, settings, and information, giving your browser a clean slate to work from. Here’s how to do it for each browser:
5. Purge Your Emails
How many unread emails do you currently have? Hundreds? Thousands? Your inbox is probably one of the most cluttered corners of your digital workspace, so it’s important to take some time to clear it out!
Manually deleting old emails and unsubscribing from irrelevant email lists can take hours, so try setting up an auto-archive or using an email organization service like unroll.me.
Need Even More Tips?
Here are a few more ideas to really level up your digital organization game:
- Schedule a time once a month (or week, depending on how much you need it) to go through these steps and maintain your tidy digital workspace.
- If you’ve completely changed the organization and labeling of your local files, give yourself time to adjust to the new set-up. If it still doesn’t feel intuitive after a few months, try a different method.
- Hire a professional cleaner like CCleaner to give your computer the deep cleanse it deserves!
Now that you’ve decluttered your computer, you’re ready to take on the new year! Freeing up your digital workspaces not only makes your daily workflow easier (aka increase productivity!) but it frees up the precious gigabytes you need to start working on new projects as well.