We are living in front of our computers for more hours than we’d like to admit, yet, when was the last time you really paid close attention to your desktop?
Don’t look the other way. I’m talking to you my friend.
Neglect. Denial. It’s happening. I can feel it with my mind reading superpowers.
Let’s diagnose. Nod every time one of these statements sounds oddly familiar:
- You download stuff off the web + save it somewhere. Anywhere of your computer.
- You install programs + apps left n’ right with the promise that maaaaaybe one day you’ll need them. In case of a zombie Apocalypse, right?
- You drag photos from your camera roll called “IM0567” + “IM0568” + “IM0569”, never rename them and swear you’ll know where to find them later.
- Your work folder looks something like this: “Design 1” + “The Design” + “Final Design” + “Design Last Draft” + “Approved Design” + “No Really This is The FINAL One” + “Sorry, This Time is For Real”.
- You love buying fonts. More fonts. One can never have too many fonts.
- And then you get more fonts because you’re not a quitter.
- You’re serious about collecting printables. It’s not a hobby. It’s a serious sport. And you’re an Olympian athlete.
Should I keep going?
Didn’t think so.
Okay, so the result of these behaviors is a desktop flooded with icons (most of which you don’t even know what they’re for) + folders (you can only suspect what’s hidden inside) + files (with hieroglyphic names not even Dan Brown from Da Vinci Code can crack).
No wonder you’re feeling so busy busy buuuusy. No wonder you don’t have time to exercise. No wonder you can’t make Pomodoro Sauce from scratch. No wonder you didn’t get around to writing this week’s blog post. No freaking wonder. Of course! You’re still searching for that doc.
Our desktops have become the modern Bermuda Triangle. The abandoned drawer of the digital age if you will. Leash the Kraken for God’s sake!
Today I’m gonna help you get rid of desktop shame in 7 easy steps. Warm up your decluttering muscles. Put on your stretchy pants. Brew some chamomile tea. It’s time!
STEP 1: Hide what you don’t use.
Now please tuck away the avalanche of worthless icons you hardly ever use. Remover them from sight. RIGHT NOW.
Do you even know what that application is for? Yeah, I though so. Let it go!
I know you don’t play Chess. Let it go!
Unless you’re Farideh Ceaser (my super talented friend who did my Life is Messy Kitchen jingle) then you probably shouldn’t have GarageBand on your dashboard. Just saying. Let it go!
I don’t care if you’re making a living online. I don’t care if your computer is your lifeline. That’s not an excuse to treat your desktop like a dumpster.
The ultimate goal is to keep your main desktop view squeaky clean.
Think minimalism. Think freedom.
Delete from the main dock all icons you don’t use on a daily basis. Simple. Revolutionary.
Also, make sure that whenever you install a new application, you uncheck the option to create a shortcut on your desktop. Programs can be accessed through other means. There’s absolutely no need for them to all be in your line of vision + clutter up your desktop with visual noise.
STEP 2: Create categories to organize everything.
First, you need to decide how you want to group your digital collection of stuff. Consider the right taxonomy by brainstorming category options. Do you want to split your personal files from your work documents? Then create two folders + label one “Personal” + the other “Work”.
For me, my work is an extension of my personal life, so I group things a little differently. I like to categorize my desktop by projects – “Heartmade” + “Mayi Carles Shop” + “Life is Messy” + “Life Blends” + “Olivia” + so on.
Then, I go a little crazy with the sub-folders. For example, my “Life is Messy” folder hosts my “Life is Messy Bootcamp” + “Life is Messy Planners” + “Life is Messy Kitchen” + “Life is Messy Rainboots” sub-folders. Some of these even have baby folders inside of them, such as “Design” + “Contracts” + “Photos” + “Testimonials” + “Videos” to keep things in place. Get the picture?
Your turn. Take a look at your stuff. What’s the best way to categorize it? Create folders for each category, keeping in mind you can always create sub-folders inside master papa bear folders.
You might already have a filing system in place. Bravo! Just need to decide:
- Which should stay?
- Which should die (a minute of silence)?
- How many new ones you need?
- Which really belong inside another folder?
Now, I know this is time consuming, but it will save you soooooo much time in the long run. Trust me. Imagine finally being able to find exactly what you’re looking for quicker than Flash? Amen!
STEP 3: Sort.
Now comes the super fun part. I’ve been waiting all my life for this. Place your files into the categories you created (sarcasm alert). Can you feel my enthusiasm?
So while you’re putting yourself through this necessary misery, you might as well take this opportunity to toss out files that are out of date + you no longer need.
STEP 4: Label it right.
While you’re sorting away + quite possible cursing my name, it helps to rename files as you go. Let me give you some examples:
- Photos can be renamed according to date (year/month/day).
- Files within folders can be given new names according to how they related to the whole group.
- Quotes can be titled by quote number + client name (Quote 134 – Luna Garcia).
- Design studio files can be labeled “Draft 1” + “Draft 2” + “Final.”
Why is this important? Well, because no file system in the galaxy can survive a messy archiver. Take the extra five seconds to label your files appropriately upon creation to avoid Easter Egg hunts in the future.
Now, having said that, I understand many of us have months, if not years, of unidentified objects living inside our computers. Creepy. This is the time to do some major house-elf cleaning. Work in 15 minute intervals or sections. For example, on Monday do your “Music” folder, on Tuesday do you “Downloads” folder + on Wednesday do your “Documents” folder + so on.
And you better give yourself a treat when you’re done. This is the equivalent to landing on the moon. You deserve an Oreo Madness at the finish line.
STEP 5: Take out the trash.
As you cruise along, drag to the trash bucket anything you no longer use. And get in the habit of periodically clicking the “Empty” button + see how your computer goes from medieval turtle to turbo.
STEP 6: Back it up.
Make a back up of all your folders in an external hardware device. That’s an order. Unless you want to lose half of your honeymoon pics like I did.
Tip: I use Time Machine to back up my things. I also upload my most important files to Dropbox + iCloud cuz one can never be too careful.
STEP 7: Download this cute desktop wallpaper!
When you’re done cleaning + organizing your desktop, it’s important to make sure that things never go back to the way they were before. If you search for “Desktop Wallpapers” on Pinterest, you will find many fun solutions to keep your desktop tidy + inspiring.
Or you can download this one I’ve designed just for desktop decluttering ninja warriors, are you one?
I promise that if you give these steps a try, you’ll notice a big difference in your productivity.
And don’t forget to take a before/after screenshots. I love seen those.
As always, if you have magic spells of your own to make decluttering your desktop easier, please do spill the jelly beans in the comments below.
A clean desktop is a happy desktop. Happy organizing my friend!
And remember, your desktop is not the Kraken. Give it some love so it loves you back.