Blog | April 3, 2014

Spring Cleaning Tips for Creatives – Tackling Digital Chaos

by Preeti Upadhyaya in Creative Workflow

The arrival of spring brings some much-needed freshness and renewal after a season of winter blues. It also triggers the urge to de-clutter our lives and start the season off with a clean slate. Spring cleaning gives us the chance to clear out all the stuff we’ve been storing in our homes since fall and winter, when holidays and cold weather drive people into a hibernation of sorts.

But cleaning out your closets and desk isn’t the only way to make the most of spring’s arrival. Today, our tech habits have also resulted in huge amounts of “digital clutter” – endless collections of digital assets that could be hampering your productivity and creativity throughout the year.

Here are a few tips to organize your digital life, both at home and at work, to embrace the spirit of spring and spark your productivity and creativity for the whole season.

Take a Step Back & See the Big Picture

It’s always good to have a general idea of what’s residing on your devices, whether it’s a desktop at work or your tablet at home. These days it’s more convenient than ever to acquire and store files in the cloud and on enormous hard drives. This is both a blessing and a curse. If you’re hyper-organized from day one, it’s incredibly easy to know which files you have and where they are. Of course, not everyone is so organizationally gifted, so a good place to start your digital spring cleaning is with a full review of your digital files to take account of what you’re working with.

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Take a Closer Look and Start Sorting

Once you’ve wrapped your head around just how much stuff you have sitting on your computer or in the cloud, you’ll probably realize that you’re not using each file on a daily basis. Determine which assets are regularly used, which files are better put in storage and which ones are just taking up valuable space. Make a list or spreadsheet to keep track of how you’re labeling files. This will help you stick to a consistent and organized system in the long run.

Archive Files for Storage – Toss the Rest

Whether you’re using the cloud or a physical hard drive, organize what you want to keep (by year is a good place to start) and dump the rest. That’ll reduce time wasted searching through endless folders for what you want.

Spring Cleaning

Keep Important Files Front & Center

The files that you haven’t archived should be readily accessible on all your devices. That’s the beauty of today’s cloud-centric world – it’s easy to carry around access to all your digital assets on any device, whether or not you’re near your base computer. In order to make this process as smooth and intuitive as possible, organize your day-to-day files so that they’re easily findable, well-structured and properly labeled and tagged.

Remember All Your Devices!

Both Apple and Google’s app stores passed one million apps available in the past year. And with smartphone and tablet use sharply on the rise, the plethora of apps out there can be dizzying. Include your smartphone and tablet in your spring cleaning by evaluating which apps can be discarded. If it’s been a year since you’ve crushed the pigs in Angry Birds in Space or have one too many coupon-collecting apps, delete them from your phone to free up valuable space. The same can be said with months-long SMS histories with friends, often filled with big picture files. Remember to back your devices up before clearing them out so everything you’ve downloaded or purchased remains on your account.

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Don’t Forget Your Desktop

Just as you would with a physical workspace, it’s important to start with a clean slate in your digital life, too. Now that you’ve taken stock of and organized all your files, it’ll be a lot easier to keep your desktop clean. Stick to a folder structure and avoid letting files pile up on the desktop as you drag and drop to use them. A clutter-free digital workspace will keep you focused and more productive.

Of course, you can argue that a fast-paced work environment doesn’t always allow the time you need to achieve organized perfection. But, a slightly cleaner digital environment can really get the creative juices flowing. You may find inspiration in unexpected places. So if you can’t complete all the steps – don’t worry. Just make some time to do a quick cleanse. Since creativity and productivity go hand in hand, putting your digital life in order is the first step to a successful spring season.