It is enough of a challenge to keep our physical homes in order, but today we have another layer of stuff to add to the physical things that clutter up our space. The stuff that I am referring to is electronic clutter, and while it is easier to ignore it, it can be just a s big a problem as it piles up and slows us down.
Email, files, pictures, documents, and other electronic flotsam and jetsam, must be sorted, purged and organized as frequently as possible.
For most of us, email is a way of life. At work it is how we communicate and share information. In the marketplace, it is a way to find the best deals on items and services that we purchase. In our personal lives, it is a way to stay in touch and it is fast, so the birthday pictures that you took can get to Aunt Jane the day of the party! However, it needs constant attention, or it can be an albatross and the things that we need to attend to can be lost in the shuffle
Try to go to your email at least once a day. Sort through it just as you do your paper mail. Junk the things that you know you don’t need to look at, and organize what is left by creating folders or labels. Spend time answering the emails that you need to get to, and try not to leave anything in the inbox for more than a couple of days. If you are on a large number of mailing lists, spend a little extra time unsubscribing and after a while there won’t be as much to work through.
In the same way, the files and folders that we squirrel away in our hard drives can become a problem if we never spend anytime attending to what we have there.
Too many items can eventually slow the computer down, and there is always the potential for a crash that can destroy a lot of hard work and personal information. Go through your documents occasionally and get rid of anything that is no longer relevant or necessary. Backup the things that you need to keep on an external drive or an online backup system.
Pictures saved electronically are a joy forever, but only if they are safe from digital destruction. They are large and can add up faster, especially if you are an avid photographer and take many, high quality, photos. It might be a good idea to buy an external drive just for photos. They are secure, can’t be accessed by anyone on the internet, and they are protection in the event of a crash. You can leave copies of anything that you want to work on in the computer, but you will have your originals somewhere else for safekeeping.
Just a few things to keep in mind as the time for filing taxes approaches. It is always better to be able to find what we need, when we need it, and the electronic world is no exception.