If your desk is an absolute disaster, you might hear about it from a coworker or even your boss. But, unless you’ve screen-shared your desktop during a Zoom call or a PowerPoint presentation, people may not know the secret shame of your digital clutter. Digital clutter is just as bad for your productivity—and sanity—as physical clutter. Things go missing or get deleted. Searching for files eats away at your time. And, worst of all, whether you know it or not, that messy desktop is taking up some of your mental real estate and maybe even causing additional, avoidable stress.
You may be thinking, I don’t have time to create and maintain some kind of digital filing system, but here’s the truth of the matter—you already have one and it already takes up your time. The difference is your current system sucks.
Depending on your needs, you may need to create subfolders to make a system like this work, but the important thing is that the system is simple enough that you’ll be able to follow consistently. It’s like that sage diet advice, the best diet is the one you can actually stick with.
While you’re cleaning up your files, if you have to keep opening documents to see what they are, you might also consider implementing a file naming convention. For example DDMMYY_DocumentName or whatever makes the most sense for your needs. Again, it’s about finding the solution that’s easy enough for you to do every time so that you don’t skip it anytime.
If this seems too tedious or time consuming, just remember, the time it takes to name and save a document in an intentional way is knowable—maybe an extra 30 seconds—the time it takes to find a missing file is not. Especially if you end up not being able to find it, which could cause a whole new headache.
Once you have your new system in place and working, you’ll not only find the files you need when you need them—you’ll find out how much more time and energy the old way took.