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Mon 30 May 2016 12:01 PM

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How to clean up your digital clutter

In a second article of our two-part series on how to spring clean your business, Shelina Jokhiya of Decluttr Me, a Dubai-based professional decluttering and organising company for both home and office, offers a digital clutter detox plan.

How to clean up your digital clutter

How often do you store your documents now digitally rather than in paper files? Isn’t it great being able to find any document quickly on your computer.

The space once used to file paper documents can be utilised in a more productive way for your employees, from bigger desks to pool tables, or better still you can rent a smaller and cheaper unit.

However, as convenient as it is to store items digitally, it is very easy to start creating digital clutter. Digital clutter can range from contracts, accounts, random notes, pictures and, worst of, all emails.

Here are my tips on how to clear your digital clutter and to keep it at bay moving forward:

Remove the duplicates

This could apply to music on ITunes and documents in your My Documents folder with the same name. Run a program like Duplicate Cleaner or Tidy Up to get rid of duplicate versions of the same files. On ITunes you can click on  the ‘Duplicate files’ button and then delete the songs manually.

Clear your inbox

Do you have over 1,000 unread emails in your inbox always? Do you get frustrated looking at the number next to the envelope icon on your phone?

The only way to remove that number on your app icon and to clear the inbox is to spend a day cleaning it.

Firstly, unsubscribe to any newsletters which you do not read or never have time to read.

Secondly, for your private emails, subscribe to a programe such as Unroll.me, which collects all your emails from that one email account and rolls them into one email that can be sent to you once a week. You can also unsubscribe to emails via Unroll.me as it detects all the emails that come through this account. I have reduced the number of emails that come into my personal inbox from 20 to 30 a day to a maximum of five a day.

Thirdly, for the remaining emails, use the acronym FAT to deal with them, which stands for File, Act and Toss (or delete):

F – File emails that you need to keep into appropriate folders

A – Act on the email immediately and then either File or Toss (delete it). If you do need time to read the email thoroughly, put it in a “Read Later” folder.

T – Toss or Delete the email.

Once you have cleaned up your mailbox, create a timetable to look though your inbox each day. Instead of constantly checking your emails, allocate times throughout the day to check them. It might be once per hour, mid morning/afternoon or at the end of the day.

Create systems

Create systems where you store your documents, be it in a My Documents folder, cloud or server.

Start with renaming any folder called New Folder or deleting these folders. Also, delete any files and folders you don’t need or use.

If you are on a server or cloud, move your documents out of the My Documents folder onto them. This will ensure you no longer have to worry about losing your documents if your computer crashes. Also, as a safety contingency and for continuity of running a business, all business documents should be stored on your company server or cloud. Remember you work for the company, and the company owns the copyright to any documents created for the business.

Then set up a logical system to access your files whether on your hard drive or on the server. Once you have the system in place, use that system and don’t save documents on your desktop.

Remove the icons from your desktop

Remove as many icons as you can from the desktop like you would on your desk. Saving on your desktop is a bad habit and can increase your stress levels. Move any files you have saved into the newly created folder(s) or delete them.  Keeping documents and applications on your hard drive will slow down your computer.  A tidy desktop will allow you to focus on your important tasks and will reduce your stress.

Also remove applications that are on your desktop, especially if they are on your dock as well. You do not need two access gateways for the application on your desktop.

Delete programes you do not use

If you have not used a programe in more than six months, delete it. If you are not sure about the application, please talk to your IT guru first or consult with someone IT-savvy.

I only delete apps which I know I have downloaded from the app store and no longer use.

Once you have deleted the programes, organise the ones left into folders. I have folders for applications relating to the printer, productivity, Microsoft, Apple, and similar.

You can carry out the same exercise for the apps on your smartphone.

Review your hard drive/cloud

Review the hard drive and cloud every six months and if you do not need it or look at it ever, delete it.

Also, consolidate data in your various hard drives. If you still have those hard drives that are the size of your current laptop and you have to plug in to get power, then you need to move the documents to a new smaller hard drive.

About Shelina Jokhiya:

Shelina Jokhiya, founder of Decluttr Me, is dedicated to helping the people of the UAE create a relaxed, productive and sacred home and office environment by clearing the clutter and junk lying around everywhere in their home and office and organising what is left into proper manageable systems. DeCluttr Me has become the first international accredited member of APDO (Association of Professional Declutters and Organisers UK).