Why Digital Spring Cleaning Matters Too

I’m tolerant of clutter – up to a point. Once the house gets too overwhelmingly messy, I find it hard to work and hard to relax. So, sooner or later, I crack and I clean things up.

When it comes to digital clutter, though, I’m pretty good at ignoring it.

An inbox stuffed with messages dating back two years? Check.

A hard drive clogged up with old computer games? Check.

Programs which I never use? Old drivers? All my downloads – from ebooks to images to audio files – stuffed into one huge folder? Check, check and check.

Now, most of the time, this isn’t actually a problem. I’m no fan of productivity systems which mean spending hours of time painstakingly sorting and managing bits and bytes – especially when the search functions on my computer itself and in my email mean it usually takes just a few seconds to find what I’m looking for.

Sometimes, though, my digital clutter causes havoc. Like the time I was trying to free up space on my USB pen in a hurry and I accidentally deleted my journal – which holds everything from notes on my novel to times of my coaching calls. Yes, I know I should’ve had a backup, but the backups had stopped running because (it turns out) I was running out of space…

A certain level of digital spring-cleaning can make your work life much easier. It might mean:

  • Running a backup. You know you should, but do you do it regularly?
  • Removing old programs – the software for that broken printer, the games that you never play any more. You can use the “Add/Remove Programs” on Windows computers to get rid of software which doesn’t have a handy “uninstall” button.
  • Using labels or folders in your inbox, if you find that helpful.
  • Updating software. I’ve just updated WordPress on my other blog, Aliventures, for the first time in months and months – and I’ve updated a whole bunch of plugins too. The new features are already making my workflow smoother.
  • Updating your virus-checking software. Especially if your computer came with a free trial which has now expired. AVG Free is (unsurprisingly) free, and excellent.

You don’t tend to “see” digital clutter in the same way that you see physical piles of papers and books and trinkets. But it can still get in the way – and even become actively harmful.

Do you need to do some digital spring cleaning? Where could you get started?

Post image by Flickr user jon_a_ross

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