Do you ever get that feeling of absolute dread and overwhelm when you stare at your virtual desktop? It’s almost as if you have so many folders bursting at the seams. They’re all packed with information. Then, you sit down to declutter your desktop and boom! You lose all interest within 5 minutes.

I know exactly how that feels. If you’re like me and also enjoy buying courses, downloading freebies and enjoy research, you may be hit by desktop overwhelm.

How do you manage it all?

How do you not feel like tearing your hair out every time you open your laptop?

How do you find what you need, exactly when you need it?

That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about in today’s post. So get ready to get organized!

Flatlay of desktop with a phone, keyboard, diary and pen and a notepad

I promise that if you follow these tips exactly the way I outline them, you will never have to spend hours hunting for information again. Plus, you will actually look forward to working on your device.

Decide what you actually need downloaded and what you can access online. This decluttering exercise will help you figure that out.

6 Simple and Effective Tips to Declutter & Organise your Computer Desktop Click to Tweet

Take stock of your content

Before we declutter we need to assess what we have ,discard that which we no longer use, and then create space for what we want to retain.

  • Identify how many folders you have on your desktop.β €
  • Figure out how many folders you actually need⁣.β €
  • Set most folders in one of two places: The Desktop or a single Master folder that you access regularly.
  • Periodically move them off the desktop when they serve their purpose.

In the next step, we will see how to sort the content across sub-folders.

TIME FOR THIS ACTIVITY: About 5 minutes per day


Create sub-folders

If you’ve done any sort of tidying exercise you’d have come across this quote before.

The principle is very simple: Put things back where they belong. That way, you don’t spend precious minutes of your day searching for things.

You know that if you need an umbrella or a jacket, you will find them in the hall closet. If you need stationery items, they should be in a drawer in the home office.

That same rule applies to your virtual desktop.

On your desktop, create one master folder and synchronize it with an online service: Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive are both good choices. I use both.

Inside the master folder, create sub-folders based on the following categories:

  • Images
  • Documents and sensitive data
  • E-books, Course and Free downloads
  • Archives (We will talk about this in point 3 below)

Ensure that you label everything correctly for one simple reason: Search compatibility.

Once you’ve sorted the material into the sub-folders, you just need to use the search feature on the desktop to find what you need.

The other Master folder will be the ‘Downloads’ folder which can be visible on your desktop. Periodically, move content from the downloads folder to the respective sub-folders that you’ve created.

Check out this quick, 5-minute video on how I organize all my blogging-related course and study material.

You might like this post on how to declutter your phone

TIME FOR THIS ACTIVITY: About 5 minutes per day


Review & Assess Content

This exercise is important because it helps you critically evaluate whether you need something or not.

How long ago did you download or save an item? Do you honestly see yourself using it in the next 30 days? If yes, keep it in the designated sub-folder. If not, move it to the ‘Archives’ sub-folder.

Ensure you label every document/item right , so you can find it when you search for it. After 30 days if you haven’t opened it at all, chances are you won’t open it ever. Choose to discard it then.

Don’t miss my Time Blocking Tips to make the most of your day!

TIME FOR THIS ACTIVITY: About 10 minutes per day


Backup your Data to the Cloud

This may be the easiest step of all on this list, especially if you follow steps 1 to 3 religiously.

Do you know why?

That’s because once you set up your folders to synchronise your content, you have to do nothing whatsoever. That’s right. Zero minutes of your day will be spent on this step. πŸ™‚

Backups are important, as we all know. I remember last year when my laptop caught fire (not kidding!) and I thought my entire manuscript went up in flames.

Thankfully, my Google Drive which had synchronised with my desktop already had a complete backup of it, safely stored on the cloud. I can’t tell you the relief I felt at this revelation.

For images, videos and other heavy files, I synchronise it with my OneDrive account- primarily because it gives me more space than Google Drive (Up to 1 Terabyte of space).

For my documents, spreadsheets and important information where I can track everything, I use Google Drive. The advantage here is that you just need to save it to the OneDrive or Google Drive folders on your desktop. It automatically creates a backup to the cloud.

That way, if you ever end up with a burnt laptop or lose your hard drive on the computer, your data is still safe and accessible.

Similarly, if you decide to free up space on your laptop, when you delete an item inside the Drive folder, it gets auto-deleted from the cloud service. Simple!

Learn how to set up and synchronise Google Drive on your desktop.

Use this tutorial to synchronise your OneDrive account.

TIME FOR THIS ACTIVITY: About 0 minutes per day


Use Spreadsheets

If it weren’t for my excel spreadsheets, I wouldn’t get half my work done.

They are absolute life-savers!

From keeping track of my affiliate links to my top ranking blog posts to where I can access the documents and courses that I have bought, everything goes on my excel sheets.

Once again, neatly labeling the spreadsheet AND backing it up to Google Drive is critical to making this step work.

Remember you won’t be creating a spreadsheet every single day. I’m guessing you’d do it maybe once a fortnight, if that.

The time I mention below is to quickly search for the relevant spreadsheet which contains the information that you need.

TIME FOR THIS ACTIVITY: About 5 minutes per day


Discard and Trash content

Finally, we come to the most important part of the decluttering session: trashing that which we don’t need or no longer use.

As I mentioned in points 2 and 3, the ‘Archive’ folder is useful for keeping items that you think you will need.

But every day, for about 5 minutes, go through the Archive folder and review if you need any of the items or not. The ones you don’t need can be confidently trashed.

Leave the rest to tackle on the following day.

TIME FOR THIS ACTIVITY: About 5 minutes per day


BONUS TIPS:

  • I always recommend that you put the decluttering exercise on your daily calendar.
  • Clutter is crazy and it builds up before you know it. Actually blocking off 30 minutes a day for organizing your desktop is the way to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed by it all.
  • Do it at a time of day when your productivity levels are low for deep work. Typically, about 30 minutes after lunch or just an hour before you shut down the laptop for the night are ideal times.
  • Don’t attempt to do it all in one sitting. That’s how you lose steam.
  • Tiny, consistent steps on a regular basis are way more manageable than an all-out frenzied cleaning session.

Flatlay of a desktop with a red coffee cup, red saucer, a red flower, pink stationery items laid scattered.

Categories: BloggingProductivity

Shailaja V

Hi there! I'm Shailaja Vishwanath, a blogger with 12 years of blogging experience and a parent to a teen. I work as a digital marketing and social media consultant. From positive parenting tips to useful productivity hacks, social media advice to blogging advice, you'll find them all right here. Welcome to my blog.

11 Comments

Obsessivemom · June 18, 2019 at 10:53 am

Such useful practical tips Shailaja. I’m going to try to implement them, some of them at least. The spreadsheets are something I’ve never got the hang of. Would love it if you shared a sample. Possible?
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Krupa · June 18, 2019 at 1:56 pm

Do you have anything for declutter of the email ? That is where I struggle the most. This was super useful and Iam going to use it mainly for my harddisk. That is what is super cluttered.

Kyra Rodriguez · June 20, 2019 at 2:07 pm

These are great trips! I’m a newbie blogger and this will totally help me in the future.
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KP · June 21, 2019 at 11:19 am

I needed these tips badly.My laptop is in a mess totally disorganized and I keep searching for things which my daughter tells me are stored in more than dozen places! Thank you very much.

Shantala · August 1, 2019 at 1:38 am

Great tips, as always Shy.

This also reminds me I have to set the backups. Right now, I do it manually. Yes, I am that resistant to change. Even to my own detriment. Sigh.

10 Simple Steps to Clean Up Your Email Inbox and stay Clutter-free · June 26, 2019 at 9:31 pm

[…] lenjoying the declutter series I’ve been writing on the blog. When I wrote the post on how to declutter your virtual desktop, one of my readers asked me a question, ‘Do you have a post on how to clean up your email […]

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