I work in Website Development so my life is spent on my laptop (and smartphone) but recently it started running really slowly. We're talking slower than a herd of snails traveling through peanut butter. This made me stressed to the point that I seriously considered throwing my laptop out the window. Then after a few days I got an error message saying I had totally run out of memory. That explains the 10 second lag on every click!
I didn't believe this message as I empty my trash regularly so couldn't possibly have used all of the space on my laptop. So I took it on a trip to the IT department so they could take a look. To my horror they told me I had 2GB of files in my download folder. For 2 years, I’ve been inadvertently storing every file ever emailed to me and my workhorse of a laptop had finally ground to a halt. They moved them all to the network and sent me on my way. My laptop was very thankful of their intervention and it's galloping once again.
This made me think that just like physical decuttering can make me more productive, a regular digital decluttering can improve my productivity and my mood. Here are some simple tips to help you be more productive and happier in your work (not just when you have a problem.)
Back up your files
Put your files on a network or in a "cloud"of your choice to free up memory and keep your laptop speedy as a snail on a skateboard.
Declutter your digital documents
Delete documents that you no longer need. If you've never done this and feel overwhelmed by trillions of documents try organising them by date and start with the oldest files first as they're usually the safest to bin.
Empty your downloads folder
I might be the only person in the world who didn't know you had to do this but you really do. I had gone years without doing this before it caused a problem but why leave it that long? My laptop had been getting slower and slower with every new download. If you’ve already backed up all important files, you can simply delete the entire contents of your downloads folder with no anxiety of accidentally loosing something important.
Clean up your desktop chaos
Just like a clean desk helps you focus and be more productive, so does a clean desktop. Bin anything you don't need anymore, put files in the correct folders then put anything else in one folder on your desktop so your work space is clear and uncluttered.
While you're giving your desktop a makeover why not treat it to a calming, minimalist wallpaper too.
Try and keep on top of your emails
Reply to anything urgent then delete it, file anything you need to read later and delete the rest. Try using automated inbox sorting. If you use Gmail, you can set up your inbox to automatically sort your incoming emails and Outlook offer "focused" and "other" inboxes as well as their Clutter tool.
For further tips to keep your email inbox free from clutter see the page about decluttering your subscriptions.
Tidy up your bookmarks
Your bookmarks bar is a great tool for productivity as you can keep regularly used pages to hand but it can become a dumping ground for stuff you intend to read and harder to see the stuff you use. Streamline your browser window by cleaning out your bookmarks. Delete what you don't need access to on a daily basis then save the rest with apps like del.icio.us or Pinterest.
Change your digital habits
Rather than zoning out by engaging the digital clutter of social feeds, do something else. Pick up an easy-reading thriller, make a fun cocktail, channel your inner foodie and bake some bread. These are the things that will truly declutter your digital life and make you more productive when you go back to it. Taking a break from digital tools also gives you breathing space to evaluate if they are adding value or causing a distraction. Are there somethings you could stop doing to free up time to do other things?
Delete any images that are out of focus or duplicates then put the keepers in a folder and upload to a cloud or external hard drive. Then delete them off your laptop to free up some space.
Empty the trash
The recycle-bin takes up hard drive space. This doesnt mean that you have to empty it but its good to remember when youre cleaning your computer to clear out space.
Review your applications
Ever downloaded an app and only used it once because it was for a specific task or wasn't what you expected? If you're not using it, uninstall it and free up some space.
ONCE A YEAR Tips
Get a check-up
If you have Mac then it's a good idea to take it to the Genius Bar once a year. It's FREE and they make sure that your computer is in good working order.
Microsoft stores offer something similar for PCs too. It's worth putting a reminder in your calendar because a year can just fly by!
I hope a few of these tips will simplify your digital life, making your more productive and less stressed as a result.