With the recent warmer weather announcing the arrival of Spring, I was inspired to venture into the yard to breathe in the fresh air and maybe even pull out a weed or two. So, before my current enthusiastic state could be overtaken by a desire for a comfy chair, I opened up the garage to search for weed removing equipment. When the tilt-a-door finally squeaked its way open I was confronted by a cluttered space full, in all directions, of useful, not so useful and well-loved treasures. What do I do now? Run for the comfy chair, or take a breath and dive into some serious ‘Spring Cleaning’. Ok, so even though the comfy chair sounded like a great idea, as I ventured into chaos I reminded myself that the garage could once again be useful and functional with a bit of cleaning up.
In the same way as our physical world occasionally needs a bit of TLC, our computers and other devices can easily become like a virtual garage, cluttered with music, movies, photos, documents and software that we may no longer need or that just needs sorting. So as Spring is a great time for cleaning, why not also take a look at your computer and make sure it is an efficient and useful space.
The first thing you see when you turn on your computer is your Desktop and if it’s anything like mine, apart from the icons that I regularly use, there is a large collection of files that I have only needed once or twice and are still sitting on my Desktop months later. These files manage to scatter themselves between the useful icons making it difficult to find anything at all. So how about this:
- Create a folder in your documents directory called Useful files or Files to keep or something else that fits your needs.
- Move all the files sitting on your desktop that you want to keep handy but don’t need to see every day into your new folder.
- Now create a shortcut to that folder on your Desktop.
- Finish off by deleting any files still on your Desktop that you definitely don’t need.
Problem solved! Your desktop is less cluttered and you can easily find what you need. It may even speed up your login time.
Now that your Desktop is clear and your program icons are easy to find, you may notice programs that you are no longer using. Maybe an old game that you haven’t played for a while or a utility that you needed for a single task long ago. You should review your Programs and Features and remove anything that you don’t need. If you are new to this area be careful to only remove programs you are certain are not needed. Always ask for help if you’re not sure.
Keeping your computer secure is critical so while you’re reviewing your programs, make sure you have reputable security software installed and that all your software regularly updated.
Files and Folders
I go through periods of complete organisation and other times, when situations are more frantic, I am not organised at all. This is reflected in my file storage which can become a little chaotic.
To clean up this area consider the types of files you have and how you would like to find them. You may like to keep all your music in one spot or have your personal documents separate to your business files. I like to visualise putting my files into different piles and naming each pile which, of course, becomes a folder or a set of folders. Because this is your space the way you organise should be meaningful to you. To help you clean up your files, you might like to consider:
- Deleting old and unwanted files or transferring them to external or cloud storage if you think they may be useful in the future.
- Renaming your files with descriptive names that make them easy to identify, group together or search for.
- Checking for duplicate files which are taking up extra space. Naming and organising your files will help you identify duplicate files or for the more adventurous there are utilities that you can download to help with this.
These days most of us rely on email or social media for communication. Without trying at all I have managed to gather a gaggle of social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. These accounts can become just as cluttered as your computer and also need a good spring cleaning. You may wish to review your “friends” lists or any groups or organisations you are following. Check that your security settings and privacy settings fit your current needs and revoke permissions for games and apps that you no longer use. Your photo may need a change along with your profile information especially if you are using your account for business. If you have had an account for a while you may even like to consider your content and remove any posts that don’t fit with your current life situation.
Organising emails can be a major and ongoing struggle, with Inboxes often being a messy combination of legitimate communication, spam and newsletters. Having an ordered email inbox is just a dream for many and there has been much written about how to achieve this elusive goal. Even the most organised person would need to periodically clean out emails hanging around in the Inbox, Deleted items, Sent items and Junk email. You may like to try sorting by sender to help with this mammoth task but the bottom line is, whatever method you use, it will be time-consuming and you may need to tackle it over a few sessions. Persistence will be the key and when your Inbox is finally squeaky-clean, try to deal with each email as it arrives to reduce future clutter.
Are we finished yet?
If you have managed to get through your Desktop, programs, files and emails, you’re probably ready for a break. So, go to your cleaning cupboard and grab a really soft cloth and give your computer a dust. There are a lot of ‘do’s and don’ts’ when it comes to cleaning computer equipment but a good dust is a great place to start. Have a look at your chair and the position of your keyboard and screens, are they in the best place to avoid aches and pains at the end of the day?
Now that your computer is dust free and your chair and monitors are correctly positioned, ask yourself if all the great work you’ve done is safe. Have you backed up your computer? Backing up your programs and files is crucial as any electronic device or component can fail leaving you open mouthed and feeling helpless. So, find a software solution that suits your purpose, or copy your files to an external device or cloud storage. Backing up is a must to safeguard your hard work and important files and memories.
Your computer is a fantastic tool but, like any other equipment, it needs regular maintenance. Changing your behavior along the way can help you achieve a clean and organised space. Finding a photo to send to a friend, listening to your favourite song or quickly locating an important document can be achieved without frustrating searches. Just like finding the weed spray in my newly organised garage.
At Macnair we are always happy to assist you with any questions you have about organising your computer. Simply call me on 02 8814 5011 or shoot through an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be more than happy to answer your questions or ease your mind.