When was the last time you organized your computer?

Did you know that your computer needs cleaned, too? No, not the crumbs off the keyboard, but your actual data. A clean desktop and organized files promote productivity and reduces stress. When you don’t have to scroll through dozens of files, you can easily find what you need when you need it.

Don’t keep questioning where you saved that downloaded file. Quit looking for months of pictures to find a single photo. Here are 4 ways to organize digital clutter:

Get Rid of Duplicates

You really don’t need two copies of your resume, especially when one new job is all that separates them. You may not even realize that you’ve saved the same document in two (or three, or four) different places, either. There are quite a few different programs that can help you search specifically for duplicates. Noticing them as you go and hitting delete can make a big difference. Just because computers now come with terabyte hard drives doesn’t mean we need to fill them. This tutorial can help you find and remove duplicate files.

Folders Are Your Friend

Similar to the manner in which you would organize paper documents (visit our Facebook page to watch Cris’s video on paper management), it is important to organize your electronic documents. Create main folders, and within those, create subfolders to easily organize your digital information. The method of storage and labeling can be customized to personal preference, as long as you can reliably track a document down again. Try to avoid vague labels like “important documents.” Instead, use logically-named folders that describe what is in the folder, like “2016 taxes” and subfolders that help you pinpoint specific documents, like “business travel receipts.” To be even more organized, be sure to save every file with a logical name, like “2016-02-17 Client Appreciation Dinner.”

Clear the Clutter

Digital clutter can be messier than paper clutter if you know where to look. Just visit your downloads folder and you’ll see what we mean. Every PDF menu from every restaurant you’ve considered is probably still sitting there.  To clean it up, simply open your downloads folder, sort by file type, and go through each category to place needed files in either your new folders or the recycle bin. Clearing clutter also involves ridding your desktop of visible files. Minimize the number of folders on your desktop, offering a clean canvas every time you use the computer. If it helps, choose a background image you love looking at to inspire you to keep it clear of unnecessary files.

Delete What You Don’t Use

There may be some lingering programs on your computer that you downloaded at one point, but now never use. Just drag an unused program from the applications to the trash, and you are that much closer to a clean and organized computer. It may be hard to get rid of that great photo editor, but if you don’t actually edit photos outside of Instagram, it’s not necessary.

Once your organization system is set up, it’s important to maintain. It only takes a few moments to save that file to its proper folder, and you’ll be grateful that you did. You will always know where important files are saved, and finding a picture will never be easier. An organized computer is a stress-free computer, supporting your best thinking and relaxing moments.