Organize Your Computer in 7 Simple Steps [Mission #18]

Get Organized Mission #18: Organize Your Computer in 7 Simple Steps

Welcome to Mission #18 of our 52 Get Organized Missions.

Living an organized life is a lot easier when you have systems and tools that are themselves well ordered.

If you’ve completed the previous mission (Get Organized  Mission #17: Create Your Bedroom Sanctuary) I hope you’re enjoying your new retreat.

So in this Get Organized Mission we’re going to tackle that modern repository of information and entertainment – the computer. Our organizing process will make it easy to know where to save your files, give you confidence to find stuff when you need it, and create a lovely sense of order in your digital life.

Note: Email is a separate challenge and has its own mission: How To Simplify Email Management [Mission #33].

Remember – you only need 30 minutes for the basic mission. Extended Options are below.
If you’re new, check out 52 Organizing Missions.

Get Organized Mission #18: Organize Your Computer in 7 Simple Steps

Step 1: Create Macro Categories

Our organizing system has 3 macro-categories, or file types:

  1. Documents
  2. Pictures
  3. Music

If these folders aren’t already set up at the top of your folder hierarchy, create them now. If you don’t have music or images, leave those out. If you have additional categories, add them.

Step 2: Create Document Categories

Business & Career

Here’s a simple folder hierarchy I suggest for documents on your business or work computer:

  1. Current Projects
    • Project A:
      __
    • Project B:
      __
    • Project C:
      __, etc
  2. Admin
    1. Marketing
    2. Accounting
    3. Legal
  3. Personal (Business-related personal items)
  4. Archive (For reference; not needed on a day-to-day basis)

Home Organization

Here’s a simple folder hierarchy I suggest for documents on your personal or home computer:

  1. Current Projects
    • Project A:
      __
    • Project B:
      __
    • Project C:
      __, etc
  2. Family
    • Family Member 1
    • Family Member 2, etc
  3. Household
  4. Personal
  5. Archive (For reference; not needed on a day-to-day basis)

Step 3: Create Picture Categories

Create folders for your pictures according to how you like to retrieve the images.

For instance, by:

  • Subject – eg family; gardens; wildlife; etc
  • Event or location – eg Africa trip, Jack’s birthday 09; Sally’s 4th Wedding; etc
  • Date – only useful if you remember things by date, otherwise retrieval may be time-consuming.

Step 4: Create Music Playlists

Create playlists according to how you like to listen to music.

For instance, by:

  • Genre – eg 80s; classical; electronica; etc
  • Mood or location – eg gym, relaxed; motivating; etc
  • A combination.

Step 5: Delete Unneeded Documents, Pictures or Music

I’m a liberal deleter, and happily take the risk of missing something later (I rarely do) in exchange for the fabulous feeling of clearing computer clutter.

You’ll need to work out for yourself where you sit on the delete scale – but don’t overthink it.  Decide fast and move on.

Step 6: Archive Everything

Archive everything that’s not current. As we only have 30 minutes, we’re going to start afresh and file new stuff as we create or update it.

This approach isn’t perfect, but you’ve promised me 30 minutes and we need to take the best organizing action we can in that time. If you have more time, check out the Extended Options.

Step 7: Clear Your Desktop

Delete what you don’t need, file what’s current, and archive the rest.

Now doesn’t that clear desktop give you a lovely feeling of clarity?

Dos & Don’ts

  • Don’t add a ‘miscellaneous’ category. It’s a way to avoid decision making – and you need to make decisions if you want to be organized.
  • Do stick to as few categories as possible. It helps make filing and retrieving simple.
  • Do customize the hierarchy of files – add, subtract or change to make it work for you. But keep the descriptions short and clear.

Extended Organizing Mission Options

Want to go beyond this 30-minute organizing mission?

  • Instead of archiving everything non-current in Step 6, quickly go through your files and move them to the correct folders in your new organizing system. If you’ve deleted unneeded stuff and you stay focused, it won’t take too long at all.
  • If you share a computer with your kids, create a folder for each child under Family, and show the kids how to save and find their stuff in the right place.
  • Now that you have a lovely, clean desktop, you may want to update your desktop background to something fresh and motivating.

Ready, Set, Go!

Remember – move quickly, act fast, don’t overthink.

Before You Go – Please Check In

Once you’ve completed this week’s Get Organized Mission please add a comment to let us know you’ve done your assignment and you’re keeping your commitment. To leave a comment: Scroll to the bottom of this post, where you’ll find a comment box waiting for you.

And see you back here next week!

Did You Know

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Click here to sign up for 52 Organizing Missions.

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ayelie/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

Michele | Get Organized Gal

Michele is into writing, books, simplicity, love, TV, productivity, and staying thin in a world of chocolate.

37 thoughts on “Organize Your Computer in 7 Simple Steps [Mission #18]

  1. Vinil says:

    Finally, completed this task today. It’s not perfect but at least 100 times better that what it used to be. For the first time in my life, my computer looks so clean and clutter free. Thanks a lot:)

  2. Vinil says:

    Finally, completed this task today. It’s not perfect but at least 100 times better that what it used to be. For the first time in my life, my computer looks so clean and clutter free. Thanks a lot:)

  3. Vinil says:

    whew… this is quite a task.. It’s taking me lot more time than expected. My categories need to be customized.. Have spent more than 1 hour already.. Guess will have to come back again tomorrow and complete this task.

  4. Vinil says:

    whew… this is quite a task.. It’s taking me lot more time than expected. My categories need to be customized.. Have spent more than 1 hour already.. Guess will have to come back again tomorrow and complete this task.

  5. PK Seay says:

    Woo Hoo! My Documents folder is purged and organized! What a great accomplishment today.

    I set it up to match my paper filing system for my business, so I can easily flip from one to the other!

  6. PK Seay says:

    Woo Hoo! My Documents folder is purged and organized! What a great accomplishment today.

    I set it up to match my paper filing system for my business, so I can easily flip from one to the other!

  7. Lauren says:

    Getting caught up and thought I’d start with this one since it was relatively easy. I don’t have that much computer clutter, but I got rid of a bunch of shortcuts I didn’t need and used your guidelines to make my files more clearly organized.

    So, done!

  8. Lauren says:

    Getting caught up and thought I’d start with this one since it was relatively easy. I don’t have that much computer clutter, but I got rid of a bunch of shortcuts I didn’t need and used your guidelines to make my files more clearly organized.

    So, done!

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