Spring Clean Your Desktop: 5 tips to eliminate desktop clutter

Do you come to work each morning and have to shovel through a stack of files and clutter on your desk? Many people do, and it can really eat away at your peace of mind and level of productivity. But when we tidy our workspace, many of us neglect the one work surface we use most: our computer.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know where all your documents are and to stop wasting time searching? Not only will an organized digital filing system save you time, but reducing clutter on your computer can improve the speed of your computer! Here are some techniques used by productivity and organizational experts to help stop the digital clutter and get organized.

  1. Choose a simple wallpaper
    Busy desktop backgrounds can become distracting. Many people set family pictures as their desktop wallpapers, but once you place files and icons all over your desktop it can turn into chaos and even make it difficult to find important files and programs. According to Monica Friel, president of Chaos to Order, a Chicago-based professional organizing firm, a calm background can boost productivity. When choosing your computer background, try a solid colour or faded picture.
  2. Create a folder system
    Is your desktop filled with icons? Have you ever had to locate a file saved to your desktop and ten minutes later still found yourself weeding through the mass of icons and files? Reduce clutter by creating a folder system on your desktop. Create folders with short, simple, but descriptive names and start dragging and dropping your files in the appropriate groups. By grouping related items, you reduce the number of visible icons on your desktop and you cut down on the time it takes to locate files.
  3. Clean up desktop icons
    Whether a program came with the purchase of your computer or you downloaded software for a one-time use, your desktop may be slowly filling up with unnecessary icons. Get into the habit of checking your programs monthly or quarterly, depending on how often you download, and uninstall any software you are not using. You can always reinstall the program another time if necessary. Also, identify which programs you use infrequently and delete the shortcuts on your desktop. Deleting the desktop shortcut icon will not delete the program; it will still appear under Programs or Apps on your start menu.
  4. Use your desktop to store items temporarily
    As with your desk surface, commit to using your computer desktop only to hold temporary items, says Friel. You may choose to save a working file to your desktop, but when you’ve finished the project, move the file to a permanent location or, if it’s no longer needed, to the trash.
  5. Install a cleanup tool
    Cleanup tools are designed to reduce the clutter in a user’s desktop environment and will move unused files to a cleanup folder. This will show you automatically what items you aren’t using regularly. There are many cleanup tools out there, and most computers come with their own software. You can also purchase or download programs that may help.

Like a tidy office, a clean and organized computer screen can reduce stress and increase productivity. Not every file or program needs to be in view at all times. Just as you store documents in your desk and filing cabinets, put digital files away when you have finished using them.

So the next time you decide to spring clean your office space, make sure to include your computer screen on your list.

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