Ever since I got my first computer, I have always tried to keep a clear desktop. When I started with PC, I would have just a few folders on my desktop and frequently-used programmes. Now on my Mac, I have zero items on my desktop. Check out this screenshot:
Why is having a clean digital workspace so important?
It reduces distractions, helps you focus, and makes it easier for you to find the important things.
Sure, the search bar is useful for some things, but most things should be just a click away. I rarely, if at all, have to use it on my computer.
But of course, I’m only human, and there have been days - weeks even - when my files piled up on my desktop, even to the extent that there were files on files on files. And I can tell you what happened: I dreaded opening up my computer to see a big mess, I wasn’t able to find any of my recent files quickly, and I couldn’t focus properly.
When my desktop is clean, on the other hand, I feel motivated to start my day, I can find everything with a snap of my fingers, and I actually know what I’m doing.
I admit that sometimes I don’t clean my desktop, simply because I don’t feel like it, but each time I do, I’m reminded of just how important it is. It’s like going to the gym: once you do it, you won’t regret it. And the best part? It only takes 10 minutes, tops, and that’s when your files are literally layered on each other.
How to maintain a clean digital workspace
Create folders for everything
The #1 reason why I procrastinate cleaning my desktop is when I don’t have a folder to put certain files in. That’s why this is so important.
Start with the major categories first: Documents, Pictures, Work/Business, and whatever else you fancy. I have an ‘Others’ folder for all the little odds and ends (like a funny GIF!). Then, create subfolders.
How this is structured is up to you and how your mind works.
As an example, my ‘Designs’ folder has the following subfolders: Brushes, Edits, Resources, and Unfinished.
Name your files properly
Having folders is one thing, but to really make this work, you have to name your files properly too. Please don’t name your latest file ‘asdfghjkl’ just because you can’t think of a name right now. It won’t help you when you want to find it next week.
Make sure that what you name your files actually tells you what it is.
Make use of aliases
For the folders and files that make sense in two places, create aliases.
When I was busy making applications, for example, I kept my passport file in my Documents folder and created an alias for it in my Applications folder so I could easily refer to it. No more clicking back and forth.
Delete files you no longer need
Random files have a way of appearing on our desktops. I tend to take lots of screenshots to share with people, and once I’ve sent them, they go right into my trash.
Your computer should be a lean, mean, hustlin’ machine. Everything that you don’t need should either go straight into the trash or saved into an external hard drive and deleted from your computer.
Clear your desktop at the end of the day
The best thing to do would be to file away everything that has accumulated on your desktop over the course of the day. But if you only have a hot minute before you switch off, then file away the really obvious ones for now.
Do a weekly clean-up
If you can’t clear your desktop each day, do it at the end of the week. When you do this, make sure you file away every single thing.
If all else fails…
Create an ‘Unsorted’ folder and dump everything on your desktop there.
During my exams when I didn’t have time to clear my desktop but hated seeing a clutter of files every time I wanted to study on my computer, this saved me a lot of frustration.
Just don’t forget to go back to your folder to actually sort everything out once you actually do have time.
Don’t use special characters when naming your files, as this can seriously mess up your computer. The only ones permitted are dashes (-) and underscores (_).
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