To kick off the new year, I decided to tackle some digital organization. Well, to be honest, this wasn’t the first project on my radar for January. More on that in a moment. However, it was an area that I needed to catch up on so let’s just go with the fact that a win is a win. So I am sharing with you an entire digital organization series and part one today is all about how to organize your computer and declutter the digital mess.
So why wasn’t I diving into other projects around the home to kick off my January? Well, our apartment flooding on Christmas Eve definitely wasn’t the start to 2023 that I was planning on. And it was all thanks to a crazy winter storm that blew through Nashville. Water main breaks, busted water heaters – a complete and utter mess.
But, I mean, a girl has to stay busy and still accomplish some projects, right? So an entire digital organizational series it was!
Digital organization is something that I don’t think we talk about enough. We’re the first generation to deal with a problem like digital clutter. For me, just like I would treat physical clutter in our home, I want to make sure that I approach digital clutter the same way. And, of course, teach my family the same proper habits. So, as part one in this digital organizational series, I am going to cover how to organize your computer.
If I’m being honest, this area can get out of control for me pretty quickly. Literally my own Monica’s closet at times – which means it’s the perfect starting point to create a blank slate and build up energy to tackle the rest of it. You are going to feel so much better after taking this first step!
Files, screenshots, documents, and even apps or software that are dated and no longer used. Go through your downloads folder – keep what you need, and delete the rest. Clean out your email inbox. Empty your trash can. All of these things accumulate clutter quickly, but they also can slow down your system. Going through it all will have you feeling so much lighter and not to mention your computer or laptop running faster. I swear – it feels amazing!
It is not safe to simply be saving everything solely on your computer. I know, this might seem like a foreign idea. But computers crash all the time and even things like natural disasters happen. If you lose your computer for any reason, everything on it is gone. And if you are storing all of your personal documents, your work, and your family photos – it can be a heartbreaking loss. Secondary storage can come in the form of either physical external hard drives or cloud storage.
For myself, I use both a form of physical storage that is not on my computer but simply hooked up to it as well as cloud storage. I love the feeling of knowing that I have backups of backups. This isn’t for everyone, but because of my background as a commercial photographer and creative director, I just learned how important backups are as well as proper digital asset management.
For the past decade, I have loved Drobo and the ability their products provide in not only giving me physical storage but backups of that physical storage. My Drobo 5N2 allows space for five external hard drives. I simply add them to the dock and my files are copied five times over on each drive. So if one fails? I have four others to pick up the slack and keep my files safe.
Unfortunately, Drobo products have been difficult to get a hold of due to supply chain issues as well as the company announcing bankruptcy last year. Fortunately, there are several other brands that offer the same storage approach as well as smaller drives if you are just starting out in this area or not needing high-capacity storage solutions. Here are a few options you can browse and shop that I not only have used myself, but will also be looking into the larger bay option for myself when it is needed and Drobo is no longer around:
Whatever external hard drive setup you go with, I would suggest not going smaller than 4TB. This will give you a large amount of storage if you are just starting out!
There are a handful of options out there, but for me, I love DropBox. They have a free version and you can also upgrade to paid options for larger storage capacity. I love that it syncs with my desktop and I can add files to it instantly. They also have wonderful features like file sharing. For instance, this makes it very easy for me to upload assets for a brand to review if I am working with them on a collaboration. For personal use, I can easily upload photos of the grandkids to a shared folder for grandparents to access. I also love that it syncs with my camera roll on my iPhone, but we will be talking more about that in part two of this digital organization series so stay tuned!
If you haven’t tried DropBox before, you can use my referral link right here to create an account and they will hook us both up with extra free storage. We can be DropBox buddies!
My DropBox is an exact copy of everything that is stored my Drobo external hard drives. A mirror pretty much. This means that if my hard drives fail or something horrible happens like a flood, I know that everything is also stored in the cloud. Should there be a grid outage or technical issue that I cannot access DropBox, I know that everything is also stored on my external drives. Not everyone will need or want this type of setup. I love that there are so many great options to choose from to establish your best fit!
This is a great way to maintain your files in a proper and efficient way. Here is an example within our family library. This is where all of our home movies and family photographs through the years are organized. You will see that I have every year, and then within a year, I have monthly subfolders. And then within those, I have the media organized by date. Figure out a filing system that works for you. This not only creates a very wonderful organized library, but it allows others to find what they need should the need arise.
Establishing the habit of properly labeling files is going to make it easy to find what you need when you need it. For mine, I simply add in the subject of the photo which matches the folder it is stored in. Then I add an underscore followed by the date. Then another underscore is followed by the file count for however many files are in a series.
This probably comes as no surprise, but I love making things as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Yes, even when it comes to technology. I love having my vision board for the year as my desktop wallpaper. This not only keeps me inspired while working but also helps keep the goals and ideas I have in focus and in front of my face as often as possible.
And don’t worry, I have a free Canva template for you to create your own. Easy to use, drag and drop, and will help you curate your very own vision board. Use it as wallpaper for your desktop or laptop computer to not only make it beautiful but to keep those goals and ideas right in front of you and top of mind! If you haven’t yet looked into Canva, I love it. You can set up a free account right here.
I hope you found this step-by-step walkthrough all about how to organize your computer helpful! Be sure and keep an eye out for the second part of my digital organization series where we are going to tackle decluttering and organizing our iPhone!