Overwhelmed with Digital Clutter and unsure how to begin finding sanity?
Embrace a bit of wisdom from Mark Twain who voiced the sentiment that “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex and overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
Below are 7 small steps to help you move in the direction of a bit more manageability as it pertains to your digital resources.
1. Choose a Target Area: Terrific applications such as DoubleKiller help you locate and eliminate digital duplicates. Refrain from start scanning your entire computer; start with a single folder instead. If digital duplication is not an issue, target a single area of your digital systems such as your email inbox or your digital desktop and begin to clear the clutter there.
2. Delete, delete, delete and then delete some more. How many e-zines, newsletters blog posts and eBooks that you aspire to read and/or apply “someday” are overcrowding your digital repositories? What about the email you’ve never read; the ones from 2011? Statistically 80% of what you keep will never be accessed again. Clear the digital clutter with the same enthusiasm you would rid your closet of clothes you haven’t worn for years…
3. “Box It”: Perhaps you struggle with the thought that you just might need “it” someday. Why not create a designated holding area in the form of a digital folder and move items you may be unsure of deleting to that folder. Next; create an appointment with yourself for a date 3 to 6 months from now to review that folder. You will likely have a fresh perspective about what can be tossed and what needs to be retained.
4. File – Act – Toss! Did you know the average user opens the same email message 7 times prior to taking action? Frightening! Why not consider 1 of 3 decisions to make about anything that enters your workflow in digital form; file information you may want to reference again, act if the call is in your court and toss (delete) the rest. The better you practice this discipline on the front end, or arrival of incoming information, the less clutter accumulates.
5. Archive or Backup: If you don’t have the time to cull through your present levels of digital insanity, why not save portions of older work files and folders to an external hard drive or create an email archive folder and clear OUT the work that does not apply to your present work. Make room for the great work you are doing now!
6. Minimize “ incomings”: The reality is you need to make some hard decisions about what you allow in to your workflow; you’ll need to employ personal discipline. A large portion of email that comes your way represents other people’s requests for your time. Do all of those requests mesh with your goals and objectives? Not likely. Write your goals and objectives on a notecard and review them before you open your inbox; it will better position you to focus on the work that truly matters.
7. Leverage Technology: The overload of information that floods your inbox in the form of e-zines and newsletters and well, “high noise/low value” information will throw you off focus in a heartbeat. Leverage the technology inherit in your email program to filter such messages out of workflow. Create rules for items that you can read later or email where you are cc’d and review those in batches. Consider a junk filter like SpamBayes or UnrollMe.
Again, digital overwhelm can strangle productivity. As Mr. Twain advised break the complexity and overwhelm into small steps and get started on the first one.
Tracy Parks, Certified Productive Environment Specialist and CEO of Simplicated