An organized desktop is a happy desktop. Now while I enjoy tarting up my real life workspaces (flowers, inspiration board, notepads…why don’t we just go live in a stationery store – deal? Deal.) – my computer desktop has always been treated like that sad junk drawer that never gets any attention.
Month after a month, I would pile in photos, links, documents, downloads, notes and all sorts of goodies until I could cram no further. Then I’d get all angry wondering why my computer was running so slowly and why I couldn’t find that important document I wrote 5 months ago because it was buried under 500 photos of my dog (embarrassing but true).
Why? Because computer files are boring. Organizing them doesn’t seem as fulfilling a job as organizing your pantry, or re-doing your office. But it’s important. If you use your computer on a daily basis, you need to organize that desktop.
I finally came to this realisation when it got to the stage where I was having nightmares about the state of my desktop. Was I missing invoices, losing images, and burying ideas in that mess? Who needs the stress? Not me and definitely not you.
So today I’m sharing the tips and tricks to how I went from this…
…to THIS in less than half an hour.
STEP ONE: FOLDERS
First up, I created new folders to categorize my files. I used:
HOME // BLOG (PRETTY FLUFFY) // ARCHIVE DOCUMENTS
For you - just work out what you use the most – maybe you need a folder for each family member if it’s a shared computer. Maybe you have business files and invoices to keep. The main thing is to keep the categories to a minimum – around 3-6 is a good number.
From there I added subfolders to my main categories just to make things that bit clearer. For example in HOME you could have the subfolders BILLS, BUDGET or EBOOK LIBRARY. These can be added as you sort through your files.
STEP TWO: SORT YOUR FILES
Once I had my file categories and subfolders ready, I knew it was time to sort. I was dreading this part, but broken down into the following tasks, it took less than 20 minutes!
I opened each link and examined why I kept it. If it was broken or no longer relevant I hit delete. If it was for a product I wanted, or an image that caught my eye, I simply pinned it to Pinterest. Pinterest now keeps the image and the link on their cloud, without me clogging up my hard drive. Woo to the Hoo!
Photos and Images
Next move was onto photos. First up – a warning! DO NOT fall into the trap of checking yourself out in every photo and starting to wonder if you looked better as a blonde. Do this and you will be sucked down that rabbit hole so fast, you’ll find yourself sitting at the computer 4 days later wondering what happened. Just put that cotton tail in the air and get sorting!
I’ve found the easiest way to categorize photos is by saving them by date – this can be done in folders or by using photo software like iPhoto. From what I hear lots of professional photographers use this method. Simply create folders for each year/month/date labeling them ‘5.3.13 – Disneyland Vacation’. That way whenever you go to find a photo you can search chronologically. It sounds simple (cause it is) but it really is a game changer – no more photos floating all over your desktop.
Reading and Reference Materials
By this stage I was down to reading and reference materials – articles I’d been meaning to read for months, and DIY tutorials I’d been hoping to start (never did get around to making that melted crayon artwork.) Whatever they were, I sorted into three options – read and delete them, print them out or save them as a PDF.
Again you can pin these links to your Pinterest boards, but for the ones I really wanted to keep, I printed them or saved them as a PDF to ensure I had them for easy reference – even when the website link expires one day.
Archives and ‘Happy Files’
During the sorting step you really need to snuggle up to the trash icon. If the link was out of date, or the document was no longer needed – I got rid of it. My advice? Do you really need your budget from 2004? Be as ruthless as possible.
However if you find yourself with files that you can’t bear to delete, consider archiving them. For example, I saved my inspiration boards and notes from my wedding planning – hopefully I’ll never need them again, but I like to know they’re still there.
Another tip is to create a HAPPY FILES folder. Got sent something that made you smile? Want to keep a file that has sentimental value? Pop it in your Happy File. I did just that and this folder is the best digital pick me up. Whenever you’re having a bad day, just clickety-click on this file and all will be good again.
Trash and Downloads
Last but not least, I waded though my trash/deleted items and my downloads. Anything I wanted to keep I’d pop in the appropriate folder. Anything I didn’t want? It was goodbye forever and that trash was emptied.
Not only will this clean things up for you, it helps your computer go faster. All those good-for-nothing files just lazing about can find somewhere else to mooch. Am I right?
STEP THREE: PRETTY UP YOUR DESKTOP
With all my files now tucked away in their appropriate folders, the next step I needed was to make sure I didn’t go back to old habits. I needed a system to keep things ship shape.
Enter the organized desktop wallpaper - which I’ve made free for you to DOWNLOADHERE. I designed this wallpaper as a place to save all my links, photos and files on my desktop daily in the appropriate categories as I’m working on them.
Found an article I want to read later? Pop it in the read section! Working on some photos and text for the blog? Over it goes into the Work section. So far this has been totally working for me.
Then each week I dedicate just 10 minutes to cleaning off the files that have gathered – archiving what I need to, deleting what I don’t, emptying out that trash basket and download folder. Then every week I start off with a fresh new desktop.
My computer is faster, I no longer have any lost files… and my desktop? It’s good as new. No more nightmares.
As a reformed desktop hoarder, I’d love to hear your tips - How do you keep your computer desktop and files organized?
"I am Serena Faber Nelson, a television producer, writer and fluffy dog owner. Obsessed with home décor, fashion, lifestyle and dogs – I set about creating Pretty Fluffy as a go-to guide for the modern pet owner. Featuring a range of stylish products, celebrity pooches, DIY projects and handy hints, Pretty Fluffy is a daily stop for smiles and inspiration, giving readers the tools they need to enjoy full and happy lives with their furry friends.
My greatest loves include fresh peonies, Dirty Dancing (Nobody puts Baby in a corner), Banoffe Pie, spending waaay too much time on Pinterest, and hugging random dogs at the park. I currently live in Sydney, Australia with my husband, Andy, and my 11 year old Border Collie, Soda. As a long time fan, I am super excited to be joining the IHeart Organizing Team!"